21. In Arcadia is the well-known town of Clitor, in whose territory is a cave with running water which makes people who drink of it abstemious. At this spring, there is an epigram in Greek verses inscribed on stone to the effect that the water is unsuitable for bathing, and also injurious to vines, because it was at this spring that Melampus cleansed the daughters of Proetus of their madness by sacrificial rites, and restored those maidens to their former sound state of mind. The inscription runs as written below:
- Swain, if by noontide thirst thou art opprest
- When with thy flocks to Cleitor's bounds thou'st hied,
- Take from this fount a draught, and grant a rest
- To all thy goats the water nymphs beside.
- But bathe not in't when full of drunken cheer,
- Lest the mere vapour may bring thee to bane;
- Shun my vine-hating spring—Melampus here
- From madness once washed Proetus' daughters sane,
- And all th' offscouring here did hide, when they
- From Argos came to rugged Arcady.
22. In the island of Zea is a spring of which those who thoughtlessly drink lose their understanding, and an epigram is cut there
- This stone sweet streams of cooling drink doth drip,
- But stone his wits become who doth it sip.
23. At Susa, the capital of the Persian kingdom, there is a little spring, those who drink of which lose their teeth. An epigram is written there, the significance of which is to this effect, that the water is excellent for bathing, but that taken as drink, it knocks out the teeth by the roots. The verses of this epigram are, in Greek, as follows:
- Stranger, you see the waters of a spring
- In which 't is safe for men their hands to lave;
- But if the weedy basin entering
- You drink of its unpalatable wave,
- Your grinders tumble out that self-same day
- From jaws that orphaned sockets will display.
24. There are also in some places springs which have the peculiarity of giving fine singing voices to the natives, as at Tarsus in Magnesia and in other countries of that kind. Then there is Zama, an African city, which King Juba fortified by enclosing it with a double wall, and he established his royal residence there. Twenty miles from it is the walled town of Ismuc, the lands belonging to which are marked off by a marvellous kind of boundary. For although Africa was the mother and nurse of wild animals, particularly serpents, yet not one is ever born in the lands of that town, and if ever one is imported and put there, it dies at once; and not only this, but if soil is taken from this spot to another place, the same is true there. It is said that this kind of soil is also found in the Balearic Islands. The above mentioned soil has a still more wonderful property, of which I have learned in the following way.
25. Caius Julius, Masinissa's son, who owned all the lands about that town, served with Caesar the father. He was once my guest. Hence, in our daily intercourse, we naturally talked of
26. This great variety in different things is a distribution due to nature, for even the human body, which consists in part of the earthy, contains many kinds of juices, such as blood, milk, sweat, urine, and tears. If all this variation of flavours is found in a small portion of the earthy, we should not be surprised to find in the great earth itself countless varieties of juices, through the veins of which the water runs, and becomes saturated with them before reaching the outlets of springs. In this way, different varieties of springs of peculiar kinds are produced, on account of diversity of situation, characteristics of country, and dissimilar properties of soils.
27. Some of these things I have seen for myself, others I have found written in Greek books, the authorities for these writings being Theophrastus, Timaeus, Posidonius, Hegesias, Herodotus, Aristides, and Metrodorus. These men with much attention and endless pains showed by their writings that the peculiarities of sites, the properties of waters, and the characteristics of countries are conditioned by the inclination of the heaven. Following their investigations, I have set down in this book what I thought sufficient about different kinds of water, to make it easier, by means of these directions, for people to pick out springs from which they can conduct the water in aqueducts for the use of cities and towns.
28. For it is obvious that nothing in the world is so necessary for use as water, seeing that any living creature can, if deprived of grain or fruit or meat or fish, or any one of them, support life by using other foodstuffs; but without water no animal nor any proper food can be produced, kept in good condition, or prepared.