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On Airs, Waters, And Places   


owing to the differences of the seasons and the nature of the soil.
But with regard to the country itself, matters are the same there as
among all other men; for where the seasons undergo the greatest and
most rapid changes, there the country is the wildest and most unequal;
and you will find the greatest variety of mountains, forests,
plains, and meadows; but where the seasons do not change much there
the country is the most even; and, if one will consider it, so is it
also with regard to the inhabitants; for the nature of some is like to
a country covered with trees and well watered; of some, to a thin soil
deficient in water; of others, to fenny and marshy places; and of some
again, to a plain of bare and parched land. For the seasons which
modify their natural frame of body are varied, and the greater the
varieties of them the greater also will be the differences of their
shapes.
14. I will pass over the smaller differences among the nations,
but will now treat of such as are great either from nature, or custom;
and, first, concerning the Macrocephali. There is no other race of men
which have heads in the least resembling theirs. At first, usage was
the principal cause of the length of their head, but now nature
cooperates with usage. They think those the most noble who have the
longest heads. It is thus with regard to the usage: immediately
after the child is born, and while its head is still tender, they
fashion it with their hands, and constrain it to assume a lengthened
shape by applying bandages and other suitable contrivances whereby the
spherical form of the head is destroyed, and it is made to increase in
length. Thus, at first, usage operated, so that this constitution
was the result of force: but, in the course of time, it was formed
naturally; so that usage had nothing to do with it; for the semen
comes from all parts of the body, sound from the sound parts, and
unhealthy from the unhealthy parts. If, then, children with bald heads
are born to parents with bald heads; and children with blue eves to
parents who have blue eyes; and if the children of parents having
distorted eyes squint also for the most part; and if the same may be
said of other forms of the body, what is to prevent it from
happening that a child with a long head should be produced by a parent
having a long head? But now these things do not happen as they did
formerly, for the custom no longer prevails owing to their intercourse
with other men. Thus it appears to me to be with regard to them.
15. As to the inhabitants of Phasis, their country is fenny, warm,
humid, and wooded; copious and severe rains occur there at all
seasons; and the life of the inhabitants is spent among the fens;
for their dwellings are constructed of wood and reeds, and are erected
amidst the waters; they seldom practice walking either to the city
or the market, but sail about, up and down, in canoes constructed
out of single trees, for there are many canals there. They drink the
hot and stagnant waters, both when rendered putrid by the sun, and
when swollen with rains. The Phasis itself is the most stagnant of all
rivers, and runs the smoothest; all the fruits which spring there
are unwholesome, feeble and imperfect growth, owing to the
redundance of water, and on this account they do not ripen, for much
vapor from the waters overspreads the country. For these reasons the
Phasians have shapes different from those of all other men; for they
are large in stature, and of a very gross habit of body, so that not a
joint nor vein is visible; in color they are sallow, as if affected
with jaundice. Of all men they have the roughest voices, from their
breathing an atmosphere which is not clear, but misty and humid;
they are naturally rather languid in supporting bodily fatigue. The
seasons undergo but little change either as to heat or cold; their
winds for the most part are southerly, with the exception of one
peculiar to the country, which sometimes blows strong, is violent
and hot, and is called by them the wind cenchron. The north wind
scarcely reaches them, and when it does blow it is weak and gentle.
Thus it is with regard to the different nature and shape of the
inhabitants of Asia and Europe.

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