Assaph Hebraeus

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[pp. 188-189]


(9th-11th cent. A.D.)

Tractatus de Septem Planetis secundum Assaph Hebraeum. At the end of the Treatise there is the following passage, in Latin.

T.: MC 820 v (Paris, Bibl.Nat., MS Lt. 6556) L:0

There [in Africa] live the peoples of Vamazones<ref>A misreading for "Nasamones" of the classical writers.</ref>and Troglodytes and the people of Lovers (gens Amantum), who built their houses of seppo (faciunt domos de seppo).<ref>The whole passage is taken from Solinus (Collectio Rerum Memorabilium, n. 28, MC 200 r), where the Roman writer says that the people of Lovers (Gens Amantum) build their houses of salt (“salibus domos extruunt”). The word “seppo” is, most likely, the latinization of the Arabic “shibb” (alum, rock salt)</ref>. Then there is Gartemaius (Garamantes?, Garamantia?), which is a town where one finds a marvellous well, the water of which is so cold during day time that one cannot suffer drinking it, and so hot during night time that no one can taste it<ref>A detail repeated by nearly all the classic writers.</ref>. This happens under the influence of the shadow.

[p. 189] There is also the land of the smaller Ethiopia (Etyopie parva) and the Mount Alcanantis, which is black like a mulberry because of its closeness to the solar heat.

Be it known to you that the people of Ethiopia of Garamania (gens Etiopie Garamaniam) have no knowledge of the marriage bond; they have their women in common; therefore it happens that one knows only one’s mother and for this reason they are reputed the least noble people in the world.

Also in Ethiopia (Etyopie) there is a huge tower which projects a great fire continuously without it being extinguished.<ref>Cf. Pliny, Nat. Hist. v, 30.</ref> Beyond these peoples there are vast deserts where nobody lives, as far as Arabia to the left and the people of Vazamone to the right. Below Ethiopia, to the east, there is the land of the Cyreneans which adjoins Libya. (MC 820 v).