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Page:Early Christianity in Arabia.djvu/12

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Red Sea; and its eastern coasts were washed by the waves of the southern ocean.[1]

In more ancient times, the land of Yaman was celebrated as the native country of myrrh and of frankincense. Its inhabitants, the Sabæi, formed the most powerful and extensive of all the nations of the Arabian peninsula. They were blessed with a redundance of the pleasures and conveniences of life. The earth was fertile and fruitful, and with little labour produced all that was required for the necessities or luxuries of mankind. The plains were covered with innumerable flocks. Extensive and numerous forests of myrrh, cinnamon, and frankincense, mixed with the sweeping palm and the tall and slender reed, breathed their perfumes to the breeze which carried them far out on the neighbouring seas.[2] The people excelled all other nations in

  1. The knowledge which the ancient geographers possessed of the shape of Africa was very confused. They supposed that after turning Cape Guardafui, the African coast ran almost direct to the pillars of Hercules,and consequently they considered the ocean which lay to the south of Arabia Felix as the Atlantic. Ὑπερ δε τουτων ἡ Ευδαιμων εστιν, επι μυριους και δισχιλιους εκκειμενη προς νοτον, μεχρι του Ατλαντικου πελαγους. Strabo, lib. xvi. c. 4. p. 384.
  2. Agatharchides, Peripl. Rubr. Maris, ap. Geogr. Gr. Min. tom. i. p. 63. Diodorus Siculus. Strabo. Solinus, c. 33. Pliny gives the following estimate of the extent of the spice woods.—Sylvarum longitudo est schœnorum xx. latitudo dimidium ejus. Schœnus patet Eratosthenis ratione stadia xl. hoc est pass, quinque d. Aliqui xxxii. stadia singulis schœnis dedere. lib. xii. c. 14.