Fascinantă descrierea făcută de Pliniu teritoriilor din zona Țarii Sfinte.

Nu știam că Andromeda, potrivit legendei, a fost legată de stânci la Iope!

CHAP. 14.—IDUMÆA, PALÆSTINA, AND SAMARIA.

Proceeding along the coast we come to the region of Samaria; Ascalo, a free town, Azotus, the two Jamniæ, one of them in the interior; and Joppe, a city of the Phœnicians, which existed, it is said, before the deluge of the earth. It is situate on the slope of a hill, and in front of it lies a rock, upon which they point out the vestiges of the chains by which Andromeda was bound. Here the fabulous goddess Ceto is worshipped. Next to this place comes Apollonia, and then the Tower of Strato, otherwise Cæsarea, built by King Herod, but now the Colony of Prima Flavia, established by the Emperor Vespasianus: this place is the frontier town of Palæstina, at a distance of 188 miles from the confines of Arabia; after which comes Phœnice. In the interior of Samaria are the towns of Neapolis, formerly called Mamortha, Sebaste, situate on a mountain, and, on a still more lofty one, Gamala.

CHAP. 15. (14.)—JUDÆA.

Beyond Idumæa and Samaria, Judæa extends far and wide. That part of it which joins up to Syria is called Galilæa, while that which is nearest to Arabia and Egypt bears the name of Peræa. This last is thickly covered with rugged mountains, and is separated from the rest of Judæa by the river Jordanes. The remaining part of Judæa is divided into ten Toparchies, which we will mention in the following order:—That of Hiericus, covered with groves of palm-trees, and watered by numerous springs, and those of Emmaüs, Lydda, Joppe, Acrabatena, Gophna, Thamna, Bethleptephene, Orina, in which formerly stood Hierosolyma, by far the most famous city, not of Judæa only, but of the East, and Herodium, with a celebrated town of the same name.

(15.) The river Jordanes rises from the spring of Panias, which has given its surname to Cæsarea, of which we shall have occasion to speak. This is a delightful stream, and, so far as the situation of the localities will allow of, winds along in its course and lingers among the dwellers upon its banks. With the greatest reluctance, as it were, it moves onward towards Asphaltites, a lake of a gloomy and unpropitious nature, by which it is at last swallowed up, and its be praised waters are lost sight of on being mingled with the pestilential streams of the lake. For this reason it is that, as soon as ever the valleys through which it runs afford it the opportunity, it discharges itself into a lake, by many writers known as Genesara, sixteen miles in length and six wide; which is skirted by the pleasant towns of Julias and Hippo on the east, of Tarichea on the south (a name which is by many persons given to the lake itself), and of Tiberias on the west, the hot springs of which are so conducive to the restoration of health.

(16.) Asphaltites produces nothing whatever except bitumen, to which indeed it owes its name. The bodies of animals will not sink in its waters, and even those of bulls and camels float there. In length it exceeds 100 miles being at its greatest breadth twenty-five, and at its smallest six. Arabia of the Nomades faces it on the east, and Machærus on the south, at one time, next to Hierosolyma, the most strongly fortified place in Judæa. On the same side lies Callirrhoë, a warm spring, remarkable for its medicinal qualities, and which, by its name, indicates the celebrity its waters have gained.

(17.) Lying on the west of Asphaltites, and sufficiently distant to escape its noxious exhalations, are the Esseni, a people that live apart from the world, and marvellous beyond all others throughout the whole earth, for they have no women among them; to sexual desire they are strangers; money they have none; the palm-trees are their only companions. Day after day, however, their numbers are fully recruited by multitudes of strangers that resort to them, driven thither to adopt their usages by the tempests of fortune, and wearied with the miseries of life. Thus it is, that through thousands of ages, incredible to relate, this people eternally prolongs its existence, without a single birth taking place there; so fruitful a source of population to it is that weariness of life which is felt by others. Below this people was formerly the town of Engadda, second only to Hierosolyma in the fertility of its soil and its groves of palm-trees; now, like it, it is another heap of ashes. Next to it we come to Masada, a fortress on a rock, not far from Lake Asphaltites. Thus much concerning Judæa.[1]


[1] Pliny the Elder. (1855). The Natural History (J. Bostock, Ed.) (1424–1431). Medford, MA: Taylor and Francis, Red Lion Court, Fleet Street.