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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a portion of
The Library of History

Diodorus Siculus

published in Vol. III
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1939

The text is in the public domain.

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and I believe it to be free of errors.
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(Vol. III) Diodorus Siculus
Library of History

(Book V, continued)

 p145  [link to original Greek text] 19 1 But now that we have discussed what relates to the islands which lie within the Pillars of Heracles, we shall give an account of those which are in the ocean. For there lies out in the deep off Libya an island​1 of considerable size, and situated as it is in the ocean it is distant from Libya a voyage of a number of days to the west. Its land is fruitful,  p147 much of it being mountainous and not a little being a level plain of surpassing beauty. 2 Through it flow navigable rivers which are used for irrigation, and the island contains many parks planted with trees of every variety and gardens in great multitudes which are traversed by streams of sweet water; on it also are private villas of costly construction, and throughout the gardens banqueting houses have been constructed in a setting of flowers, and in them the inhabitants pass their time during the summer season, since the land supplies in abundance everything which contributes to enjoyment and luxury. 3 The mountainous part of the island is covered with dense thickets of great extent and with fruit-trees of every variety, and, inviting men to life among the mountains, it has cozy glens and springs in great number. In a word, this island is well supplied with springs of sweet water which not only makes the use of it enjoyable for those who pass their life there but also contribute to the health and vigour of their bodies. 4 There is also excellent hunting of every manner of beast and wild animal, and the inhabitants, being well supplied with this game at their feasts, lack of nothing which pertains to luxury and extravagance; for in fact the sea which washes the shore of the island contains a multitude of fish, since the character of the ocean is such that it abounds throughout its extent with fish of every variety. 5 And, speaking generally, the climate of the island is so altogether mild that it produces in abundance the fruits of the trees and the other seasonal fruits for the larger part of the year, so that it would appear that the island, because of its exceptional felicity, were a dwelling-place of a race of gods and not of men.

 p149  [link to original Greek text] 20 1 In ancient times this island remained undiscovered because of its distance from the entire inhabited world, but it was discovered at a later period for the following reason. The Phoenicians, who from ancient times on made voyages continually for purposes of trade, planted many colonies throughout Libya and not a few as well in the western parts of Europe. And since their ventures turned out according to their expectations, they amassed great wealth and essayed to voyage beyond the Pillars of Heracles into the sea which men call the ocean. 2 And, first of all, upon the Strait itself by the Pillars they founded a city on the shores of Europe, and since the land formed a peninsula they called the city Gadeira;​2 in the city they built many works appropriate to the nature of the region, and among them a costly temple of Heracles,​3 and they instituted magnificent sacrifices which were conducted after the manner of the Phoenicians. And it has come to pass that this shrine has been held in an honour beyond the ordinary, both at the time of its building and in comparatively recent days down even to our own lifetime. Also many Romans, distinguished men who have performed great deeds, have offered vows to this god, and these vows they have performed after the completion of their successes.​4 3 The Phoenicians, then, while exploring the coast outside the Pillars for the reasons we have stated and while sailing along the shore of Libya, were driven by strong  p151 winds a great distance out into the ocean. And after being storm-tossed for many days they were carried ashore on the island we mentioned above, and when they had observed its felicity and nature they caused it to be known to all men.​5 4 Consequently the Tyrrhenians, at the time when they were masters of the sea, purposed to dispatch a colony to it; but the Carthaginians prevented their doing so, partly out of concern lest many inhabitants of Carthage should remove there because of the excellence of the island, and partly in order to have ready in it a place in which to seek refuge against an incalculable turn of fortune, in case some total disaster should overtake Carthage. For it was their thought that, since they were masters of the sea, they would thus be able to move, households and all, to an island which was unknown to their conquerors.6

[link to original Greek text] 21 1 But since we have set forth the facts concerning the ocean lying off Libya and its islands, we shall now turn our discussion to Europe. Opposite that part of Gaul which lies on the ocean and directly across from the Hercynian Forest,​7 as it is called, which is the largest of any in Europe of which tradition tells us, there are many islands out in the ocean of which the largest is that known as Britain.8  p153 2 In ancient times this island remained unvisited by foreign armies; for neither Dionysus, tradition tells us, nor Heracles, nor any other hero or leader made a campaign against it; in our day, however, Gaius Caesar, who has been called a god because of his deeds, was the first man of whom we have record to have conquered the island, and after subduing the Britons he compelled them to pay fixed tributes. But we shall give a detailed account of the events of this conquest in connection with the appropriate period of time,​9 and at present we shall discuss the island and the tin which is found in it.

3 Britain is triangular in shape, very much as is Sicily, but its sides are not equal. This island stretches obliquely along the coast of Europe, and the point where it is least distant from the mainland, we are told, is the promontory which men call Cantium,​10 and this is about one hundred stades from the land,​11 at the place where the sea has its outlet,​12 whereas the second promontory, known as Belerium,​13 is said to be a voyage of four days from the mainland, and the last, writers tell us, extends out into the open sea and is named Orca.​14 4 Of the sides of Britain the shortest,​15 which extends along Europe, is seven thousand five hundred stades, the second, from the Strait to the (northern) tip, is  p155 fifteen thousand stades, and the last is twenty thousand stades, so that the entire circuit of the island amounts to forty-two thousand five hundred stades.​16 5 And Britain, we are told, is inhabited by tribes which are autochthonous and preserve in their ways of living the ancient manner of life. They use chariots, for instance, in their wars, even as tradition tells us the old Greek heroes did in the Trojan War, and their dwellings are humble, being built for the most part out of reeds or logs. The method they employ of harvesting their grain crops is to cut off no more than the heads and store them away in roofed granges, and then each day they pick out the ripened heads and grind them, getting in this way their food.​a 6 As for their habits, they are simple and far removed from the shrewdness and vice which characterize the men of our day. Their way of living is modest, since they are well clear of the luxury which is begotten of wealth. The island is also thickly populated, and its climate is extremely cold, as one would expect, since it actually lies under the Great Bear. It is held by many kings and potentates, who for the most part live at peace among themselves.

22 1 But we shall give a detailed account of the customs of Britain and of the other features which are peculiar to the island when we come to the campaign which Caesar undertook against it, and at this time we shall discuss the tin which the island  p157 produces. The inhabitants of Britain who dwell about the promontory known as Belerium​17 are especially hospitable to strangers and have adopted a civilized manner of life because of their intercourse with merchants of other peoples. They it is who work the tin, treating the bed which bears it in an ingenious manner. 2 This bed, being like rock, contains earthy seams and in them the workers quarry the ore,​18 which they then melt down and cleanse of its impurities. Then they work the tin into pieces the size of knuckle-bones and convey it to an island which lies off Britain and is called Ictis;​19 for at the time of ebb-tide the space between this island and the mainland becomes dry and they can take the tin in large quantities over to the island on their wagons. 3 (And a peculiar thing happens in the case of the neighbouring islands which lie between Europe and Britain, for at flood-tide the passages between them and the mainland run full and they have the appearance of islands, but at ebb-tide the sea recedes and leaves dry a large space, and at that time they look like peninsulas.)​20 4 On the island of Ictis the merchants purchase the tin of the natives and carry it from there across the Strait to Galatia or Gaul; and finally, making their way on foot through Gaul for some thirty days, they bring their wares on horseback to the mouth of the river Rhone.

 p159  23 1 But as regards the tin of Britain we shall rest content with what has been said, and we shall now discuss the electron, as it is called (amber). Directly opposite the part of Scythia which lies above Galatia there is an island out in the open sea which is called Basileia.​21 On this island the waves of the sea cast up great quantities of what is known as amber, which is to be seen nowhere else in the inhabited world; and about it many of the ancient writers have composed fanciful tales, such as are altogether difficult to credit and have been refuted by later events. 2 For many poets and historians give the story that Phaëthon, the son of Helius, while yet a youth, persuaded his father to retire in his favour from his four-horse chariot for a single day; and when Helius yielded to the request Phaëthon, as he drove the chariot, was unable to keep control of the reins, and the horses, making light of the youth, left their accustomed course; and first they turned aside to traverse the heavens, setting it afire and creating what is now called the Milky Way, and after that they brought the scorching rays to many parts of the inhabited earth and burned up not a little land. 3 Consequently Zeus, being indignant because of what had happened, smote Phaëthon with a thunderbolt and brought back the sun to its accustomed course. And Phaëthon fell to the earth at the mouths of the river which is now known as the Padus (Po), but in ancient times was called the Eridanus,​b and his sisters vied with each other in bewailing his death and by reason of their exceeding grief underwent a metamorphosis of their nature,  p161 becoming poplar trees. 4 And these poplars, at the same season each year, drip tears,​22 and these, when they harden, form what men call amber, which in brilliance excells all else of the same nature and is commonly used in connection with the mourning attending the death of the young. But since the creators of this fictitious tale have one and all erred, and have been refuted by what has transpired at later times, we must give ear to the accounts which are truthful; for the fact is that amber is gathered on the island we have mentioned and is brought by the natives to the opposite continent, and that it is conveyed through the continent to the regions known to us, as we have stated.

24 1 Since we have set forth the facts concerning the islands which lie in the western regions, we consider that it will not be foreign to our purpose to discuss briefly the tribes of Europe which lie near them and which we failed to mention in our former Books. Now Celtica was ruled in ancient times, so we are told, by a renowned man who had a daughter who was of unusual stature and far excelled in beauty all the other maidens. But she, because of her strength of body and marvellous comeliness, was so haughty that she kept refusing every man who wooed her in marriage, since she believed that no one of her wooers was worthy of her. 2 Now in the course of his campaign against the Geryones, Heracles visited Celtica and founded there the city of Alesia,​23 and the maiden, on seeing Heracles, wondered at his prowess and his bodily superiority and accepted  p163 his embraces with all eagerness, her parents having given their consent. 3 From this union she bore to Heracles a son named Galates, who far surpassed all the youths of the tribe in quality of spirit and strength of body. And when he had attained to man's estate and had succeeded to the throne of his fathers, he subdued a large part of the neighbouring territory and accomplished great feats in war. Becoming renowned for his bravery, he called his subjects Galatae or Gauls​24 after himself, and these in turn gave their name to all of Galatia or Gaul.

25 1 Since we have explained the name by which the Gauls are known, we must go on to speak about their land. Gaul is inhabited by many tribes of different size; for the largest number some two hundred thousand men, and the smallest fifty thousand, one of the latter​25 standing on terms of kinship and friendship with the Romans, a relation­ship which has endured from ancient times down to our own day. 2 And the land, lying as it does for the most part under the Bears, has a wintry climate and is exceedingly cold. For during the winter season on cloudy days snow falls deep in place of rain, and on clear days ice and heavy frost are everywhere and in such abundance that the rivers are frozen over and are bridged by their own waters; for not only can chance travellers, proceeding a few at a time, make their way carry them on the ice, but even armies with their tens of thousands, together with their beasts of burden and heavily laden  p165 wagons, cross upon it in safety to the other side. 3 And many large rivers flow through Gaul, and their streams cut this way and that through the level plain, some of them flowing from bottomless lakes and others having their sources and affluents in the mountains, and some of them empty into the ocean and others into our sea. The largest one of those which flow into our waters is the Rhone, which has its sources in the Alps and empties into the sea by five mouths. 4 But of the rivers which flow into the ocean the largest are thought to be the Danube​26 and the Rhine, the latter of which the Caesar who has been called a god spanned with a bridge in our own day with astonishing skill, and leading his army across on foot he subdued the Gauls who lived beyond it. 5 There are also many other navigable rivers in Celtica, but it would be a long task to write about them. And almost all of them become frozen over by the cold and thus bridge their own streams, and since the natural smoothness of the ice makes the crossing slippery for those who pass over, they sprinkle chaff on it and thus have a crossing which is safe.

26 1 A peculiar thing and unexpected takes place over the larger part of Gaul which we think we should not omit to mention. For from the direction of the sun's summer setting​27 and from the north winds are wont to blow with such violence and force that they pick up from the ground rocks as large as can be held in the hand together with a  p167 dust composed of coarse gravel; and, generally speaking, when these winds rage violently they tear the weapons out of men's hands and the clothing off their backs and dismount riders from their horses. 2 Furthermore, since temperateness of climate is destroyed by the excessive cold, the land produces neither wine nor oil, and as a consequence those Gauls who are deprived of these fruits make a drink out of barley which they call zythos or beer, and they also drink the water with which they cleanse their honeycombs. 3 The Gauls are exceedingly addicted to the use of wine and fill themselves with the wine which is brought into their country by merchants, drinking it unmixed, and since they partake of this drink without moderation by reason of their craving for it, when they are drunken they fall into a stupor or a state of madness. Consequently many of the Italian traders, induced by the love of money which characterizes them, believe that the love of wine of these Gauls is their own godsend.​28 For these transport the wine on the navigable rivers by means of boats and through the level plain on wagons, and receive for it an incredible price; for in exchange for a jar of wine they receive a slave, getting a servant in return for the drink.

27 1 Throughout Gaul there is found practically no silver, but there is gold in great quantities, which Nature provides for the inhabitants without their having to mine for it or to undergo any hardship. For the rivers, as they course through the country, having as they do sharp bends which turn this way and that and dashing against the mountains which  p169 line their banks and bearing off great pieces of them, are full of gold-dust. 2 This is collected by those who occupy themselves in this business, and these men grind or crush the lumps which hold the dust, and after washing out with water the earthy elements in it they give the gold-dust over to be melted in the furnaces. 3 In this manner they amass a great amount of gold, which is used for ornament not only by the women but also by the men. For around their wrists and arms they wear bracelets, around their necks heavy necklaces of solid gold,​29 and huge rings they wear as well, and even corselets of gold. 4 And a peculiar and striking practice is found among the upper Celts, in connection with the sacred precincts of the gods; as for in the temples and precincts made consecrate in their land, a great amount of gold has been deposited as a dedication to the gods, and not a native of the country ever touches it because of religious scruple, although the Celts are an exceedingly covetous people.

28 1 The Gauls are tall of body, with rippling muscles, and white of skin, and their hair is blond, and not only naturally so, but they also make it their practice by artificial means to increase the distinguishing colour which nature has given it. 2 For they are always washing their hair in lime-water, and they pull it back from the forehead to the top of the head and back to the nape of the neck, with the result that their appearance is like that of Satyrs and Pans, since the treatment of their hair makes it so heavy and coarse that it differs in no respect from  p171 the mane of horses. 3 Some of them shave the beard, but others let it grow a little; and the nobles shave their cheeks, but they let the moustache grow until it covers the mouth. Consequently, when they are eating, their moustaches become entangled in the food, and when they are drinking, the beverage passes, as it were, through a kind of a strainer. 4 When they dine they all sit, not upon chairs, but upon the ground, using for cushions the skins of wolves or of dogs. The service at the meals is performed by the youngest children, both male and female, who are of suitable age; and near at hand are their fireplaces heaped with coals, and on them are caldrons and spits holding whole pieces of meat. Brave warriors they reward with the choicest portions of the meat, in the same manner as the poet introduces Ajax as honoured by the chiefs after he returned victorious from his single combat with Hector:30

To Ajax then were given of the chine

Slices, full-length, unto his honour.

5 They invite strangers to their feasts, and do not inquire until after the meal who they are and of what things they stand in need. And it is their custom, even during the course of the meal, to seize upon any trivial matter as an occasion for keen disputation and then to challenge one another to single combat, without any regard for their lives; 6 for the belief of Pythagoras prevails among them, that the souls of men are immortal and that after a prescribed number of years they commence upon a new life, the soul entering into another body.​31 Consequently, we  p173 are told, at the funerals of their dead some cast letters upon the pyre which they have written to their deceased kinsmen, as if the dead would be able to read these letters.

29 1 In their journeyings and when they go into battle the Gauls use chariots drawn by two horses, which carry the charioteer and the warrior; and when they encounter cavalry in the fighting they first hurl their javelins at the enemy and then step down from their chariots and join battle with their swords. 2 Certain of them despise death to such a degree that they enter the perils of battle without protective armour and with no more than a girdle about their loins. They bring along to war also their free men to serve them, choosing them out from among the poor, and these attendants they use in battle as charioteers and as shield-bearers. It is also their custom, when they are formed for battle, to step out in front of the line and to challenge the most valiant men from among their opponents to single combat, brandishing their weapons in front of them to terrify their adversaries. 3 And when any man accepts the challenge to battle, they then break forth into a song in praise of the valiant deeds of their ancestors and in boast of their own high achievements, reviling all the while and belittling their opponent, and trying, in a word, by such talk to strip him of his bold spirit before the combat. 4 When their enemies fall they cut off their heads and fasten them about the necks of their horses; and turning over to their attendants the arms of their opponents, all covered with blood, they carry them off as booty, singing a paean over them and striking up a song of victory, and these first-fruits of battle they fasten by nails upon their  p175 houses, just as men do, in certain kinds of hunting, with the heads of wild beasts they have mastered. 5 The heads of their most distinguished enemies they embalm in cedar-oil and carefully preserve in a chest, and these they exhibit to strangers, gravely maintaining that in exchange for this head some one of their ancestors, or their father, or the man himself, refused the offer of a great sum of money. And some men among them, we are told, boast that they have not accepted an equal weight of gold for the head they show, displaying a barbarous sort of greatness of soul; for not to sell that which constitutes a witness and proof of one's valour is a noble thing, but to continue to fight against one of our own race, after he is dead, is to descend to the level of beasts.

30 1 The clothing they wear is striking — shirts which have been dyed and embroidered in varied colours, and breeches, which they call in their tongue bracae; and they wear striped coats, fastened by a buckle on the shoulder, heavy for winter wear and light for summer, in which are set checks, close together and of varied hues.​32 2 For armour they use long shields, as high as a man, which are wrought in a manner peculiar to them, some of them even having the figures of animals embossed on them in bronze, and these are skilfully worked with an eye not only to beauty but also to protection. On their heads they put bronze helmets which have large embossed figures standing out from them and give an appearance of great size to those who wear them; for in some cases horns are attached to the helmet so as to form a single piece, in other cases images of the  p177 fore-parts of birds or four-footed animals. 3 Their trumpets are of peculiar nature and such as barbarians use, for when they are blown upon they give forth a harsh sound, appropriate to the tumult of war. Some of them have iron cuirasses, chain-wrought, but others are satisfied with the armour which Nature has given them and go into battle naked. In place of the short sword they carry long broad-swords which are hung on chains of iron or bronze and are worn along the right flank. And some of them gather up their shirts with belts plated with gold or silver. 4 The spears they brandish, which they call lanciae, have iron heads a cubit in length and even more, and a little under two palms in breadth; for their swords are not shorter than the javelins of other peoples, and the heads of their javelins are larger than the swords of others. Some of these javelins come from the forge straight, others twist in and out in spiral shapes for their entire length, the purpose being that the thrust may not only cut the flesh, but mangle it as well, and that the withdrawal of the spear may lacerate the wound.

31 1 The Gauls are terrifying in aspect and their voices are deep and altogether harsh; when they meet together they converse with few words and in riddles, hinting darkly at things for the most part and using one word when they mean another; and they like to talk in superlatives, to the end that they may extol themselves and depreciate all other men. They are also boasters and threateners and are fond of pompous language, and yet they have sharp wits and are not without cleverness at learning. 2 Among  p179 them are also to be found lyric poets whom they call Bards. These men sing to the accompaniment of instruments which are like lyres, and their songs may be either of praise or of obloquy. Philosophers, as we may call them, and men learned in religious affairs are unusually honoured among them and are called by them Druids. 3 The Gauls likewise make use of diviners, accounting them worthy of high approbation, and these men foretell the future by means of the flight or cries of birds and of the slaughter of sacred animals, and they have all the multitude subservient to them. They also observe a custom which is especially astonishing and incredible, in case they are taking thought with respect to matters of great concern; for in such cases they devote to death a human being and plunge a dagger into him in the region above the diaphragm,​33 and when the stricken victim has fallen they read the future from the manner of his fall and from the twitching of his limbs, as well as from the gushing of the blood, having learned to place confidence in an ancient and long-continued practice of observing such matters. 4 And it is a custom of theirs that no one should perform a sacrifice without a "philosopher"; for thank-offerings should be rendered to the gods, they say, by the hands of men who are experienced in the nature of the divine, and who speak, as it were, the language of the gods, and it is also through the mediation of such men, they think, that blessings likewise should be sought. 5 Nor is it only in the exigencies of peace, but in their wars as well, that they obey, before all others, these men and their chanting poets, and such obedience is observed not only by their friends but also by their enemies; many times, for  p181 instance, when two armies approach each other in battle with swords drawn and spears thrust forward, these men step forth between them and cause them to cease, as though having cast a spell over certain kinds of wild beasts. In this way, even among the wildest barbarians, does passion give place before wisdom, and Ares stands in awe of the Muses.

32 1 And now it will be useful to draw a distinction which is unknown to many: The peoples who dwell in the interior above Massalia, those on the slopes of the Alps, and those on this side the Pyrenees mountains are called Celts, whereas the peoples who are established above this land of Celtica in the parts which stretch to the north, both along the ocean and along the Hercynian Mountain, and all the peoples who come after these, as far as Scythia, are known as Gauls; the Romans, however, include all these nations together under a single name, calling them one and all Gauls.

2 The women of the Gauls are not only like the men in their great stature but they are a match for them in courage as well. Their children are usually born with grayish hair, but as they grow older the colour of their hair changes to that of their parents. 3 The most savage peoples among them are those who dwell beneath the Bears and on the borders of Scythia, and some of these, we are told, eat human beings, even as the Britonsº do who dwell on Iris,​34 as it is called. 4 And since the valour of these peoples and their savage ways have been famed abroad, some men say that it was they who in ancient times overran all Asia and were called Cimmerians, time having  p183 slightly corrupted the word into the name of Cimbrians, as they are now called.​35 For it has been their ambition from old to plunder, invading for this purpose the lands of others, and to regard all men with contempt. 5 For they are the people who captured Rome,​36 who plundered the sanctuary at Delphi,​37 who levied tribute upon a large part of Europe and no small part of Asia, and settled themselves upon the lands of the peoples they had subdued in war, being called in time Greco-Gauls, because they became mixed with the Greeks, and who, as their last accomplishment, have destroyed many large Roman armies. 6 And in pursuance of their savage ways they manifest an outlandish impiety also with respect to their sacrifices; for their criminals they keep prisoner for five years and then impale in honour of the gods, dedicating them together with many other offerings of first-fruits and constructing pyres of great size. Captives also are used by them as victims for their sacrifices in honour of the gods. Certain of them likewise slay, together with the human beings, such animals as are taken in war, or burn them or do away with them in some other vengeful fashion.

7 Although their wives are comely, they have very little to do with them, but rage with lust, in outlandish fashion, for the embraces of males. It is their practice to sleep upon the ground on the skins of wild beasts and to tumble with a catamite on each side.​38 And the most astonishing thing of all is that  p185 they feel no concern for their proper dignity, but prostitute to others without a qualm the flower of their bodies; nor do they consider this a disgraceful thing to do, but rather when anyone of them is thus approached and refuses the favour offered him, this they consider an act of dishonour.

33 1 Now that we have spoken at sufficient length about the Celts we shall turn our history to the Celtiberians who are their neighbours. In ancient times these two peoples, namely, the Iberians and the Celts, kept warring among themselves over the land, but when later they arranged their differences and settled upon the land altogether, and when they went further and agreed to intermarriage with each other, because of such intermixture the two peoples received the appellation given above. And since it was two powerful nations that united and the land of theirs was fertile, it came to pass that the Celtiberians advanced far in fame and were subdued by the Romans with difficulty and only after they had faced them in battle over a long period. 2 And this people, it would appear, provide for warfare not only excellent cavalry but also foot-soldiers who excel in prowess and endurance. They wear rough black cloaks, the wool of which resembles the hair of goats. 3 As for their arms, certain of the Celtiberians, carry light shields like those of the Gauls, and certain carry circular wicker shields as large as an aspis,​39 and about their shins and calves they wind greaves made of hair and on their heads they wear bronze helmets adorned with purple crests. The swords they wear are two-edged and wrought of excellent iron, and they also have dirks a span in length which they use  p187 in fighting at close quarters. 4 And a peculiar practice is followed by them in the fashioning of their defensive​40 weapons; for they bury plates of iron in the ground and leave them there until in the course of time the rust has eaten out what is weak in the iron and what is left is only the most unyielding, and of this they then fashion excellent swords and such other objects as pertain to war.​41 The weapon which has been fashioned in the manner described cuts through anything which gets in its way, for no shield or helmet or bone can withstand a blow from it, because of the exceptional quality of the iron. 5 Able as they are to fight in two styles, they first carry on the contest on horseback, and when they have defeated the cavalry they dismount, and assuming the rôle of foot-soldiers they put up marvellous battles. And a peculiar and strange custom obtains among them: Careful and cleanly as they are in their ways of living, they nevertheless observe one practice which is low and partakes of great uncleanness; for they consistently use urine to bathe the body and wash their teeth with it, thinking that in this practice is constituted the care and healing of the body.42

34 1 As for the customs they follow toward malefactors and enemies the Celtiberians are cruel, but toward strangers they are honourable and humane. Strangers, for instance, who come among them they  p189 one and all entreat to stop at their homes and they are rivals one of another in their hospitality, and any among them who are attended by strangers are spoken of with approval and regarded as beloved of the gods. 2 For their food they use meats of every description, of which they enjoy an abundance, since the country supplies them with a great quantity of honey, although the wine they purchase from merchants who sail over the seas to them. 3 Of the tribes neighbouring upon the Celtiberians the most advanced is the people of the Vaccaei, as they are called; for this people each year divides among its members the land which it tills and making the fruits the property of all they measure out his portion to each man, and for any cultivators who have appropriated some part for themselves they have set the penalty as death. 4 The most valiant among the Iberians are those who are known as Lusitanians, who carry in war very small shields which are interwoven with cords of sinew and are able to protect the body unusually well, because they are so tough; and shifting this shield easily as they do in their fighting, now here, now there, they cleverly ward off from their person every blow which comes at them. 5 They also use barbed javelins made entirely of iron, and wear helmets and swords very much like those of the Celtiberians. They hurl the javelin with good effect, even over a long distance, and, in fine, are doughty in dealing their blows. Since they are nimble and wear light arms, they are swift both in flight and in pursuit, but when it comes to enduring the hardships of a stiff fight they are far inferior to the Celtiberians. In time of peace they practise a kind of elfin dance which requires great nimbleness of  p191 limb, and in their wars they march into battle with even step and raise a battle-song as they charge upon the foe. 6 And a peculiar practice obtains among the Iberians and particularly among the Lusitanians; for when their young men come to the bloom of their physical strength, those who are the very poorest among them in worldly goods and yet excel in vigour of body and daring equip themselves with no more than valour and arms and gather in the mountain fastnesses, where they form into bands of considerable size and then descend upon Iberia and collect wealth from their pillaging. And this brigandage they continually practise in a spirit of complete disdain; for using as they do light arms and being altogether nimble and swift, they are a most difficult people for other men to subdue. 7 And, speaking generally, they consider the fastnesses and crags of the mountains to be their native land and to these places, which large and heavily equipped armies find hard to traverse, they flee for refuge. Consequently, although the Romans in their frequent campaigns against the Lusitanians rid them of their great spirit of disdain, they were nevertheless unable, often as they eagerly set about it, to put a complete end to their plundering.

35 1 Since we have set forth the facts concerning the Iberians, we think that it will not be foreign to our purpose to discuss the silver mines of the land; for this land possesses, we may venture to say, the most abundant and most excellent known sources of silver, and to the workers of this silver it returns great revenues. 2 Now in the preceding Books which told of the achievements of Heracles we have mentioned the mountains in Iberia which are known as the  p193 Pyrenees.​43 Both in height and in size these mountains are found to excel all others; for they stretch from the southern sea practically as far as the northern ocean​44 and extend for some three thousand stades, dividing Gaul from Iberia and Celtiberia. 3 And since they contain many thick and deep forests, in ancient times, we are told, certain herdsmen left a fire and the whole area of the mountains was entirely consumed; and due to this fire, since it raged continuously day after day, the surface of the earth was also burned and the mountains, because of what had taken place, were called the Pyrenees;​45 furthermore, the surface of the burned land ran with much silver and, since the elementary substance out of which the silver is worked was melted down, there were formed many streams of pure silver. 4 Now the natives were ignorant of the use of the silver, and the Phoenicians, as they pursued their commercial enterprises and learned of what had taken place, purchased the silver in exchange for other wares of little if any worth. And this was the reason why the Phoenicians, as they transported this silver to Greece and Asia and to all other peoples, acquired great wealth. So far indeed did the merchants go in their greed that, in case their boats were fully laden and there still remained a great amount of silver, they would hammer the lead off the anchors and have the silver perform the service of the lead. And the result was that the Phoenicians, as in the course of  p195 many years they prospered greatly, thanks to commerce of this kind, sent forth many colonies, some to Sicily and its neighbouring islands, and others to Libya, Sardinia, and Iberia.

36 1 But at a much later time the Iberians, having come to know the peculiar qualities possessed by silver, sunk notable mines, and as a consequence, by working the most excellent and, we may say, the most abundant silver to be found, they received great revenues. The manner, then, in which the Iberians mine and work the silver is in part as follows. 2 The mines being marvellous in their deposits of copper and gold and silver, the workers of the copper mines recover from the earth they dig out a fourth part of pure copper, and among the unskilled workers in silver there are some who will take out a Euboic talent​46 in three days; for all the ore is full of solid silver-dust which gleams forth from it. Consequently a man may well be filled with wonder both at the nature of the region and at the diligence displayed by the men who labour there. 3 Now at first unskilled labourers, whoever might come, carried on the working of the mines, and these men took great wealth away with them, since the silver-bearing earth was convenient at hand and abundant; but at a later time, after the Romans had made themselves masters of Iberia, a multitude of Italians have swarmed to the mines and taken great wealth away with them, such was their greed. 4 For they purchase a multitude of slaves whom they turn over to the overseers of the working of the mines; and these men, opening shafts in a number of places and digging deep into the ground, seek out the seams of earth which are  p197 rich in silver and gold; and not only do they go into the ground a great distance, but they also push their diggings many stades in depth and run galleries off at every angle, turning this way and that, in this manner bringing up from the depths the ore which gives them the profit they are seeking.

37 1 Great also is the contrast these mines show when they are compared with those of Attica.​47 The men, that is, who work the Attic mines, although they have expended large sums on the undertakings, yet "Now and then, what they hoped to get, they did not get, and what they had, they lost," so that it would appear that they met with misfortune in a kind of riddle;​48 2 but the exploiters of the mines of Spain, in their hopes,​49 amass great wealth from their undertakings. For their first labours are remunerative, thanks to the excellent quality of the earth for this sort of thing, and they are ever coming upon more splendid veins, rich in both silver and gold; for all the ground in that region is a tangled network of veins which wind in many ways. 3 And now and then, as they go down deep, they come upon flowing subterranean rivers, but they overcome the might of these rivers by diverting the streams which flow in on them by means of channels leading off at an angle. For being urged on as they are by expectations of  p199 gain, which indeed do not deceive them, they push each separate undertaking to its conclusion, and what is the most surprising thing of all, they draw out the waters of the streams they encounter by means of what is called by men the Egyptian screw, which was invented by Archimedes of Syracuse at the time of his visit to Egypt;​50 and by the use of such screws they carry the water in successive lifts​51 as far as the entrance, drying up in this way the spot where they are digging and making it well suited to the furtherance of their operations. 4 Since this machine is an exceptionally ingenious device, an enormous amount of water is thrown out, to one's astonishment, by means of a trifling amount of labour, and all the water from such rivers is brought up easily from the depths and poured out on the surface. And a man may well marvel at the inventiveness of the craftsman,​52 in connection not only with this invention but with many other greater ones as well, the fame of which has encompassed the entire inhabited world and of which we shall give a detailed and precise account when we come to the period of Archimedes.53

38 1 But to continue with the mines, the slaves who are engaged in the working of them produce for their masters revenues in sums defying belief, but they themselves wear out their bodies both by day and by night in the diggings under the earth, dying in large numbers because of the exceptional hardships they endure. For no respite or pause is granted them in their labours, but compelled beneath blows of  p201 the overseers to endure the severity of their plight, they throw away their lives in this wretched manner, although certain of them who can endure it, by virtue of their bodily strength and their persevering souls, suffer such hardships over a long period; indeed death in their eyes is more to be desired than life, because of the magnitude of the hardships they must bear. 2 And although many are the astounding features connected with the mining just described, a man may wonder not the least at the fact that not one of the mines has a recent beginning, but all of them were opened by the covetousness of the Carthaginians at the time when Iberia was among their possessions. It was from these mines, that is, that they drew their continued growth, hiring the ablest mercenaries to be found and winning with their aid many and great wars. 3 For it is in general true that in their wars the Carthaginians never rested their confidence in soldiers from among their own citizens or gathered from their allies, but that when they subjected the Romans and the Sicilians and the inhabitants of Libya to the greatest perils it was by money, thanks to the abundance of it which they derived from their mines, that they conquered them in every instance. For the Phoenicians, it appears, were from ancient times clever men in making discoveries to their gain, and the Italians are equally clever in leaving no gain to anyone else.

4 Tin also occurs in many regions of Iberia, not found, however, on the surface of the earth, as certain writers continually repeat in their histories, but dug out of the ground and smelted in the same manner as silver and gold. For there are many mines of tin  p203 in the country above Lusitania and on the islets which lie off Iberia out in the ocean and are called because of that fact the Cassiterides.​54 5 And tin is brought in large quantities also from the island of Britain to the opposite Gaul,​55 where it is taken by merchants on horses through the interior of Celtica both to the Massalians and to the city of Narbo, as it is called. This city is a colony of the Romans, and because of its convenient situation it possesses the finest market to be found in those regions.

39 1 Since we have discussed the Gauls, the Celtiberians, and the Iberians, we shall pass on to the Ligurians. The Ligurians inhabit a land which is stony and altogether wretched, and the life they live is, by reason of the toils and the continuous hardships they endure in their labour, a grievous one and unfortunate. 2 For the land being thickly wooded, some of them fell the wood the whole day long, equipped with efficient and heavy axes, and others, whose task it is to prepare the ground, do in fact for the larger part quarry out rocks by reason of the exceeding stoniness of the land; for their tools never dig up a clod without a stone. Since their labour entails such hardship as this, it is only by perseverance that they surmount Nature and that after many distresses they gather scanty harvests, and no more. By reason of their continued physical activity and minimum of nourishment the Ligurians are slender and vigorous of body. To aid them in their hardships  p205 they have their women, who have become accustomed to labour on an equal basis with the men. 3 They are continually hunting, whereby they get abundant game and compensate in this way for the lack of the fruits of the field. Consequently, spending their lives as they do on snow-covered mountains, where they are used to traversing unbelievably rugged places, they become vigorous and muscular of body. 4 Some of the Ligurians, because of the lack among them of the fruits of the earth, drink nothing but water,​56 and they eat the flesh of both domestic and wild animals and fill themselves with the green things which grow in the land, the land they possess being untrodden by the most kindly of the gods, namely, Demeter and Dionysus.

5 The nights the Ligurians spend in the fields, rarely in a kind of crude shanty or hut, more often in the hollows of rocks and natural caves which may offer them sufficient protection. 6 In pursuance of these habits they have also other practices wherein they preserve the manner of life which is primitive and lacking in implements. Speaking generally, in these regions the women possess the vigour and might of men, and the men those of wild beasts. Indeed, they say that often times in campaigns the mightiest warrior among the Gauls has been challenged to single combat by a quite slender Ligurian and slain. 7 The weapons of the Ligurians are lighter in their structure than those of the Romans; for their protection is a long shield, worked in the Gallic fashion, and a shirt gathered in with a belt, and about them they throw the skins of wild animals and carry a sword of moderate size; but some of  p207 them, now that they have been incorporated in the Roman state, have changed the type of their weapons, adapting themselves to their rulers. 8 And they are venturesome and of noble spirit, not only in war, but in those circumstances of life which offer terrifying hardships or perils. As traders, for instance, they sail over the Sardinian and Libyan seas, readily casting themselves into dangers from which there is no succour; for although the vessels they use are more cheaply fashioned than make-shift boats and their equipment is the minimum of that usual on ships, yet to one's astonishment and terror they will face the most fearful conditions which storms create.

40 1 It remains for us now to speak of the Tyrrhenians. This people, excelling as they did in manly vigour, in ancient times possessed great territory and founded many notable cities. Likewise, because they also availed themselves of powerful naval forces and were masters of the sea over a long period, they caused the sea along Italy to be named Tyrrhenian after them; and because they also perfected the organization of land forces, they were the inventors of the salpinx, as it is called, a discovery of the greatest usefulness for war and named after them the "Tyrrhenian trumpet." They were also the authors of that dignity which surrounds rulers, providing their rulers with lictors and an ivory stool​57 and a toga with a purple band; and in connection with their houses they invented the peristyle,​58 a useful device for avoiding the confusion connected with the attending throngs; and these things were  p209 adopted for the most part by the Romans, who added to their embellishment and transferred them to their own political institutions. 2 Letters, and the teaching about Nature and the gods they also brought to greater perfection, and they elaborated the art of divination by thunder and lightning more than all other men; and it is for this reason that the people​59 who rule practically the entire inhabited world show honour to these men even to this day and employ them as interpreters of the omens of Zeus as they appear in thunder and lightning.

3 The land the Tyrrhenians inhabit bears every crop, and from the intensive cultivation of it they enjoy no lack of fruits, not only sufficient for their sustenance but contributing to abundant enjoyment and luxury. For example, twice each day they spread costly tables and upon them everything that is appropriate to excessive luxury, providing gay-coloured couches and having ready at hand a multitude of silver drinking-cups of every description and servants-in‑waiting in no small number; and these attendants are some of them of exceeding comeliness and others are arrayed in clothing more costly than befits the station of a slave. 4 Their dwellings are of every description and of individuality, those not only of their magistrates but of the majority of the free men as well. And, speaking generally, they have now renounced the spirit which was emulated by their forebears from ancient times, and passing their lives as they do in drinking-bouts and unmanly amusements, it is easily understood how they have lost the glory in warfare which their fathers possessed. 5 Not the least of the things which have contributed to  p211 their luxury is the fertility of the land; for since it bears every product of the soil and is altogether fertile, the Tyrrhenians lay up great stores of every kind of fruit. In general, indeed, Tyrrhenia, being altogether fertile, lies in extended open fields and is traversed at intervals by areas which rise up like hills and yet are fit for tillage; and it enjoys moderate rainfall not only in the winter season but in the summer as well.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 The idyllic colours in which the picture of this island in the Atlantic is painted relieve the historian of any concern over its identification, although by some writers it is identified with the largest island of the Madeira group, which, however, has no navigable rivers.

2 Cadiz. The Greek name is derived from the Phoenician "Gadir" or "Agadir," which the ancient writers understood to mean "citadel" or "fortress."

3 The temple of the Tyrian god Melkart, whom the Greeks identified with Heracles.

4 Among the "distinguished" Romans Diodorus may well have had in mind his contemporary, Julius Caesar, who visited this temple early in his political career and upon seeing a statue of Alexander the Great, so Suetonius (Julius, 7.1) recounts, heaved a sigh because at his age he had done nothing noteworthy, whereas Alexander in the same years had subdued the world. At a later time Caesar conferred Roman citizen­ship on the city.

5 There seems no reason to doubt the statement that Phoenician sailors were actually driven out at some time to islands in the Atlantic, such as Madeira or the Canaries. Cp. R. Hennig, Historische Zeitschrift, 139 (1928), 9.

6 But just above we are told that the Phoenicians had made the island "known to all men."

7 Since this forest lay deep in Germany, the mention of it is no aid in orienting the islands to be described. The classic description of the Hercynian Forest is in Caesar, Gallic War, 6.25‑8.

8 It appears that the name of the tribe which Caesar met on the island was originally Preteni; but that Caesar knew Brittani in Gaul and changed the P into B and the form of the spelling as well. Cp. R. G. Collingwood, J. N. L. Myres, Roman Britain and the English Settlement (1936), p31.

9 Caesar invaded Britain in 55 and 54 B.C., but the history of Diodorus did not come down to that date (cp. Vol. I, p. xix).

10 The Forelands and Kent.

11 i.e. from the mainland. One hundred stades is about eleven miles.

12 i.e. where the North Sea empties into the ocean.

13 Land's End.

14 Duncansbay Head with Dunnet Head, the northern tip of Scotland; modern writers also transliterate the name as "Orcas" and "Orcan."

15 From the Forelands in Kent to Land's End.

16 In miles about 861, 1723, and 2258 respectively, a total of 4842, which is more than double the actual circumference. These figures are from Pytheas, a sea captain of Massilia, who circumnavigated Britain around 300 B.C., and their inaccuracy is excusable in consideration of the fact that the ancients had no instruments for reckoning distance by sea.

17 The area of modern Cornwall.

18 Literally, "marble" or "limestone." All the MSS. but one read "the source of their revenue (?)"; but compare Book 3.12.1, where quartz-rock in the gold mines of Nubia is called "marble."

19 Almost certainly the present St. Michael's Mount, an island in Mount's Bay of Cornwall; this is connected with the mainland by a causeway which is passable only at low tide. Cp. T. R. Holmes, Ancient Britain and the Invasions of Julius Caesar, 499‑514; R. Hennig, Rheinisches Museum, 83 (1934), 169.

Thayer's Note: For the difficulties in identifying Ictis, see Rev. Robert Wallace, "The Ictis of Diodorus Siculus" (1844); where we see that "Almost certainly" is overstating the case for St. Michael's Mount. Although that author gives too much weight to folk memories, he does show that a close reading of Diodorus can support other identifications on and near the constantly changing coast of Cornwall. The simplest solution might still be to put Ictis at St. Michael's Mount and posit the disappearance of the other islets: but everything is conjecture and the question remains open.

20 The reference is probably to some islands off the northwest headland of France.

21 Identified as Heligoland by Cary in Cary and Warmington, The Ancient Explorers, 38.

22 The Greek word in the singular, as here, also means "sap."

23 Cp. Book 4.1719.

24 It may be observed that the ancient writers in general regarded the Germans as Gauls (Celts), and this fact explain why Diodorus makes no mention of the Germans while he is discussing western Europe.

25 The Aedui.

26 In the time of Diodorus the Romans gave the name "Danube" to the upper waters of the modern Danube, which Diodorus elsewhere (4.56.7) calls the Ister, knowing that it flows into the Black Sea. It was probably this practice of the Romans which led Diodorus, who knew our Danube as the Ister, to think it was a distinct river; and it is not likely that the entire course of the Danube was known at this time.

27 i.e. the north-west.

28 Literally "gift of Hermes," as the god of gain and good luck.

29 The familiar Gallic torque.

30 Iliad, 7.321.

31 Metempsychosis was one of the cardinal tenets of the Druids (cp. Caesar, Gallic War, 6.14; Strabo, 4.4.4).

32 Diodorus appears to be trying to describe a kind of Scotch tartan.

33 Strabo (4.4.5) merely says that they plunge the dagger "in the back."

34 Ireland; cp. the old name Erin and the name Eire now chosen by the Irish Free State.

35 Much has been written to show that the Germanic tribe of the Cimbrians who threatened Italy shortly before 100 B.C. were belated Cimmerians who first entered Asia Minor in the seventh century B.C.

36 In 387‑86 B.C. according to the chronology of Polybius and Diodorus; in 390 B.C. by Roman chronology.

37 In 279 B.C.

38 The Greek may possibly mean, "with concubines of both sexes"; but Athenaeus (13.603A) states that the Celts were accustomed to sleep with two boys.

39 The shield of a heavy-armed Greek soldier.

40 But the word may also mean "offensive" (cp. Book 3.54.3), contrary to Liddell and Scott. Indeed ὅπλων ἀμυντηρίων probably means here no more than "arms," as contrasted with "implements" for the uses of peace, as seems clear from what follows.

41 A naïve explanation. Cp. O. Davies, Roman Mines in Europe, p59: "Owing to the uncertainty of its (steel) quality, the Celtiberians buried their iron in the ground, because soft iron rusts more quickly than steel, and so by reforging a superior product can be obtained."

42 Strabo (3.4.16) corroborates this fact; cp. also Catullus, 39.17 ff.

Thayer's Note: For further details on tooth care among the Romans — and an important additional source — see my note on the article Dentifricium in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

43 The mountains are not mentioned in the preceding two Books, which treat of Heracles.

44 The Mediterranean sea and the Atlantic ocean respectively.

45 i.e. as if from the Greek word for fire, πῦρ (pyr); but the Celtic word for "mountain" is Byrin or Bryn.

46 About 57 pounds avoirdupois.

47 The silver-mines of Laurium.

48 The riddle is that propounded to Homer (Homeri Via Herodotea, 35) by some fishermen who had had no luck and had become covered with lice while sitting on the beach: ἅσσ’ ἕλομεν λιπόμεσθα, ἃ δ’ οὐχ ἕλομεν φερόμεσθα ("what we caught we left behind, but what we failed to catch we brought with us"). Demetrius of Phalerum had applied the riddle to the capitalists of Attica, who did not receive the returns they expected from their investments in the Attic silver-mines. The observation of Demetrius was preserved in Poseidonius, who is the source of the different forms in which it appears in Strabo (3.2.9), Athenaeus (6.233E), and Diodorus.

49 Or perhaps what Diodorus meant was, "wealth . . . commensurate with their hopes."

50 This screw is mentioned before (1.34.2) as used by the Egyptians to irrigate the land of the Delta; on the evidence for its use in the mines of Spain and illustrations of such a screw and the manner of its operation see T. A. Rickard, "The Mining of the Romans in Spain," Journ. of Roman Studies, 18 (1928), 129‑143.

Thayer's Note: And for comprehensive information on Archimedes' screw, see the notes in Book I.

51 i.e. water was lifted by a series of such screws.

52 Archimedes.

53 This period was the third century B.C., which was covered by some of the lost Books.

54 From kassiteros ("tin"). These are the Scilly Isles, lying just off the tip of Cornwall; the ancients considered them as off Spain because of the easy access to them by way of the coast of Spain and the Bay of Biscay.

55 Cp. ch. 22 above.

56 i.e. they have no wine.

57 The sella curulis of the Romans.

58 That part of the Roman house which lay back of the large reception hall and adjacent rooms, and consisted of an open court with rooms opening upon it.

59 i.e. the Romans.

Thayer's Notes:

a Good details are given in P. J. Boyles, Grain Storage in Iron Age Britain (2023), in which the author also explains why Diodorus found this worthy of mention.

b The identification of the Eridanus is in fact very problematic, or maybe just pointless. The Po was only one of several ancient candidates: Strabo, for example, writes "the Eridanus that exists nowhere on earth, although it is spoken of as near the Padus" (V.1). For the details, see Allen's Star Names, s.v. Eridanus.

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