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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/676

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

member between the animal and the man." Jalkut Reubeni remarks, "The ape veils itself before man as man does in the presence of the Shekinah." We recognize in this view the law brought into vogue by Leibnitz, and extended by Bonnet, of the continuous graded ascent of created beings. Finally, it is proper to state here that, according to the agadistic view, the primitive man as well as the ape, for the most part, lived only on vegetable food. "Flesh-eating was forbidden to Adam as well as to all his posterity till the time of Noah," say Lekachtob, Synhedrin, Jalkut Chadash, and Sefer Chassidim.

While the references to apes in the ancient writings of the Hebrews are generally of a matter-of-fact character, the stories and delineations by the ancient Arabians have, as a rule, a romantic stamp. The ape-men Nesnâs, which Maimonides believes to mean the Adne-hasadeh, play a conspicuous part in the Arabian travelers' stories, their romances, and their theology. I may state here that the ape is called in modern Arabic Nesnâs or Nasnas. A Mohammedan tradition runs: Ibn Abbas said: "Men (Nâs) have perished and the Nesnâs are left." He was asked, "What are Nesnâs?" and he replied, "Creatures which are like men and are still not men." Al-Gauharî defines the Nesnâs as "creatures that hop on one leg." The Nesnâs are very fully described by Al-Kazrwini as animals of a half-human figure which serve the people as food. They have half a body, half a head, a hand, and a leg, as if they were men split in two. This idea is, I believe, only the too literal and hyperbolical carrying out of the description of an ape as half a man. Wüstenfeld translates Nesnâs by "one-legged creature," and deduces from citations which he makes, that God changed men into Nesnâs as a punishment. The Koran, Surah ii, says: "You know what happened to those among you who profaned the Sabbath. We said to them, be apes and be excluded from human society, in order that they might be an example for the present and the future, and a warning to the pious." The Nesnâs were said to be Shemites, and descended from Shem's son Hasim; to speak Arabic, and to have Arabic personal names Ibn Ajjas, in his cosmography, describes the Nesnâs as creatures with one eye, one ear, and one leg. Macudi gives a similar description and adds, that they rise out of the sea. The Nesnâs killed such men as they could catch.

According to another view, the Nesnâs were identical with Gog and Magog. Arabian historians speak of an invasion by a pygmy people called Nesnâs into Southern Arabia—a tradition which is referred by Fresnel to the irruption of the Roman legions. The question is raised in the casuistics of Mohammedan ritual, whether it is right to eat the flesh of the Nesnâs. As a rule such food is absolutely forbidden. Al Tabbarîi permits it, because aquatic animals are generally not forbidden. Wahrmund defines the Nesnâs as a "large ape, an orang-outang, a chimpanzee; a one-armed and one-legged satyr that hops fast." Muhîs-ai-Muhîs of Albustâni says: "It is related in tradition