A Philological Essay Concerning the Pygmies of the Ancients
by Edward Tyson
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[Footnote A: Jo. Talentionij. Variar. & Recondit. Rerum. Thesaurus. lib. 3. cap. 21.]

[Footnote B: Joh. Laurent. Anania prope finem tractatus primi suae Geograph.]

[Footnote C: Joh. Cassanius libello de Gygantibus, p. 73.]

[Footnote D: Jo. Talentonius Variar. & recondit. Rerum Thesaurus, lib. 3. cap. 21. p.m. 515.]

[Footnote E: Job Ludolphi Comment. in Historiam AEthiopic. p.m. 71.]

I had almost forgotten Olaus Magnus, whom Bartholine mentions in the close of this Chapter, but lays no great stress upon his Authority, because he tells us, he is fabulous in a great many other Relations, and he writes but by hear-say, that the Greenlanders fight the Cranes; Tandem (saith Bartholine) neque ideo Pygmaei sunt, si forte sagittis & hastis, sicut alij homines, Grues conficiunt & occidunt. This I think is great Partiality: For Ctesias, an Author whom upon all turns Bartholine makes use of as an Evidence, is very positive, that the Pygmies were excellent Archers: so that he himself owns, that their being such, illustrates very much that Text in Ezekiel, on which he spends good part of the next Chapter, whose Title is, Pygmaeorum Gens ex Ezekiele, atque rationibus probabilibus adstruitur; which we will consider by and by. And tho' Olaus Magnus may write some things by hear-say, yet he cannot be so fabulous as Ctesias, who (as Lucian tells us) writes what he neither saw himself, or heard from any Body else. Not that I think Olaus Magnus his Greenlanders were real Pygmies, no more than Ctesias his Pygmies were real Men; tho' he vouches very notably for them. And if all that have copied this Fable from Ctesias, must be look'd upon as the same Evidence with himself; the number of the Testimonies produced need not much concern us, since they must all stand or fall with him.

The probable Reasons that Bartholine gives in the fifth Chapter, are taken from other Animals, as Sheep, Oxen, Horses, Dogs, the Indian Formica and Plants: For observing in the same Species some excessive large, and others extreamly little, he infers, Quae certe cum in Animalibus & Vegetabilibus fiant; cur in Humana specie non sit probabile, haud video: imprimis cum detur magnitudinis excessus Gigantaeus; cur non etiam dabitur Defectus? Quia ergo dantur Gigantes, dabuntur & Pygmaei. Quam consequentiam ut firmam, admittit Cardanus,[A] licet de Pygmaeis hoc tantum concedat, qui pro miraculo, non pro Gente. Now Cardan, tho' he allows this Consequence, yet in the same place he gives several Reasons why the Pygmies could not be Men, and looks upon the whole Story as fabulous. Bartholine concludes this Chapter thus: Ulterius ut Probabilitatem fulciamus, addendum Sceleton Pygmaei, quod Dresdae vidimus inter alia plurima, servatum in Arce sereniss. Electoris Saxoniae, altitudine infra Cubitum, Ossium soliditate, proportioneque tum Capitis, tum aliorum; ut Embrionem, aut Artificiale quid Nemo rerum peritus suspicari possit. Addita insuper est Inscriptio Veri Pygmaei. I hereupon looked into Dr. Brown's Travels into those Parts, who has given us a large Catalogue of the Curiosities, the Elector of Saxony had at Dresden, but did not find amongst them this Sceleton; which, by the largeness of the Head, I suspect to be the Sceleton of an Orang-Outang, or our wild Man. But had he given us either a figure of it, or a more particular Description, it had been a far greater Satisfaction.

[Footnote A: Cardan. de Rerum varietate, lib. 8. cap. 40.]

The Title of Bartholine's sixth Chapter is, Pygmaeos esse aut fuisse ex variis eorum adjunctis, accidentibus, &c. ab Authoribus descriptis ostenditur. As first, their Magnitude: which he mentions from Ctesias, Pliny, Gellius, and Juvenal; and tho' they do not all agree exactly, 'tis nothing. Autorum hic dissensus nullus est (saith Bartholine) etenim sicut in nostris hominibus, ita indubie in Pygmaeis non omnes ejusdem magnitudinis. 2. The Place and Country: As Ctesias (he saith) places them in the middle of India; Aristotle and Pliny at the Lakes above AEgypt; Homer's Scholiast in the middle of AEgypt; Pliny at another time saith they are at the Head of the Ganges, and sometimes at Gerania, which is in Thracia, which being near Scythia, confirms (he saith) Anania's Relation. Mela places them at the Arabian Gulf; and Paulus Jovius docet Pygmaeos ultra Japonem esse; and adds, has Autorum dissensiones facile fuerit conciliare; nec mirum diversas relationes a, Plinio auditas. For (saith he) as the Tartars often change their Seats, since they do not live in Houses, but in Tents, so 'tis no wonder that the Pygmies often change theirs, since instead of Houses, they live in Caves or Huts, built of Mud, Feathers, and Egg-shells. And this mutation of their Habitations he thinks is very plain from Pliny, where speaking of Gerania, he saith, Pygmaeorum Gens fuisse (non jam esse) proditur, creduntque a Gruibus fugatos. Which passage (saith Bartholine) had Adrian Spigelius considered, he would not so soon have left Aristotle's Opinion, because Franc. Alvares the Portuguese did not find them in the place where Aristotle left them; for the Cranes, it may be, had driven them thence. His third Article is, their Habitation, which Aristotle saith is in Caves; hence they are Troglodytes. Pliny tells us they build Huts with Mud, Feathers, and Egg-shells. But what Bartholine adds, Eo quod Terrae Cavernas inhabitent, non injuria dicti sunt olim Pygmaei, Terrae filii, is wholly new to me, and I have not met with it in any Author before: tho' he gives us here several other significations of the word Terrae filij from a great many Authors, which I will not trouble you at present with. 4. The Form, being flat nosed and ugly, as Ctesias. 5. Their Speech, which was the same as the Indians, as Ctesias; and for this I find he has no other Author. 6. Their Hair; where he quotes Ctesias again, that they make use of it for Clothes. 7. Their Vertues and Arts; as that they use the same Laws as the Indians, are very just, excellent Archers, and that the King of India has Three thousand of them in his Guards. All from Ctesias. 8. Their Animals, as in Ctesias; and here are mentioned their Sheep, Oxen, Asses, Mules, and Horses. 9. Their various Actions; as what Ctesias relates of their killing Hares and Foxes with Crows, Eagles, &c. and fighting the Cranes, as Homer, Pliny, Juvenal.

The seventh Chapter in Bartholine has a promising Title, An Pygmaei sint homines, and I expected here something more to our purpose; but I find he rather endeavours to answer the Reasons of those that would make them Apes, than to lay down any of his own to prove them Men. And Albertus Magnus's Opinion he thinks absurd, that makes them part Men part Beasts; they must be either one or the other, not a Medium between both; and to make out this, he gives us a large Quotation out of Cardan. But Cardan[A] in the same place argues that they are not Men. As to Suessanus[B] his Argument, that they want Reason, this he will not Grant; but if they use it less or more imperfectly than others (which yet, he saith, is not certain) by the same parity of Reason Children, the Boeotians, Cumani and Naturals may not be reckoned Men; and he thinks, what he has mentioned in the preceding Chapter out of Ctesias, &c. shews that they have no small use of Reason. As to Suessanus's next Argument, that they want Religion, Justice, &c. this, he saith, is not confirmed by any grave Writer; and if it was, yet it would not prove that they are not Men. For this defect (he saith) might hence happen, because they are forced to live in Caves for fear of the Cranes; and others besides them, are herein faulty. For this Opinion, that the Pygmies were Apes and not Men, he quotes likewise Benedictus Varchius,[C] and Joh. Tinnulus,[D] and Paulus Jovius,[E] and several others of the Moderns, he tells us, are of the same mind. Imprimis Geographici quos non puduit in Mappis Geographicis loco Pygmaeorum simias cum Gruibus pugnantes ridicule dipinxisse.

[Footnote A: Cardan. de Rerum varietate, lib. 8. cap. 40.]

[Footnote B: Suessanus Comment. in Arist. de Histor. Animal. lib. 8. cap. 12.]

[Footnote C: Benedict. Varchius de Monstris. lingua vernacula.]

[Footnote D: Joh. Tinnulus in Glotto-Chrysio.]

[Footnote E: Paulus Jovius lib. de Muscovit. Legalione.]

The Title of Bartholine's eighth and last Chapter is, Argumenta eorum qui Pygmaeorum Historiam fabulosam censent, recitantur & refutantur. Where he tells us, the only Person amongst the Ancients that thought the Story of the Pygmies to be fabulous was Strabo; but amongst the Moderns there are several, as Cardan, Budaeus, Aldrovandus, Fullerus and others. The first Objection (he saith) is that of Spigelius and others; that since the whole World is now discovered, how happens it, that these Pygmies are not to be met with? He has seven Answers to this Objection; how satisfactory they are, the Reader may judge, if he pleases, by perusing them amongst the Quotations.[A] Cardan's second Objection (he saith) is, that they live but eight years, whence several Inconveniences would happen, as Cardan shews; he answers that no good Author asserts this; and if there was, yet what Cardan urges would not follow; and instances out of Artemidorus in Pliny,[B] as a Parallel in the Calingae a Nation in India, where the Women conceive when five years old, and do not live above eight. Gesner speaking of the Pygmies, saith, Vitae autem longitudo anni arciter octo ut Albertus refert. Cardan perhaps had his Authority from Albertus, or it may be both took it from this passage in Pliny, which I think would better agree to Apes than Men. But Artemidorus being an Indian Historian, and in the same place telling other Romances, the less Credit is to be given to him. The third Objection, he saith, is of Cornelius a Lapide, who denies the Pygmies, because Homer was the first Author of them. The fourth Objection he saith is, because Authors differ about the Place where they should be: This, he tells us, he has answered already in the fifth Chapter. The fifth and last Objection he mentions is, that but few have seen them. He answers, there are a great many Wonders in Sacred and Profane History that we have not seen, yet must not deny. And he instances in three; As the Formicae Indicae, which are as big as great Dogs: The Cornu Plantabile in the Island Goa, which when cut off from the Beast, and flung upon the Ground, will take root like a Cabbage: and the Scotland Geese that grow upon Trees, for which he quotes a great many Authors, and so concludes.

[Footnote A: Respondeo. 1. Contrarium testari Mercatorum Relationem apud Ananiam supra Cap. 4. 2. Et licet non inventi essent vivi a quolibet, pari jure Monocerota & alia negare liceret. 3. Qui maria pernavigant, vix oras paucas maritimas lustrant, adeo non terras omnes a mari dissitas. 4. Neque in Oris illos habitare maritimis ex Capite quinto manifestum est. 5. Quis testatum se omnem adhibuisse diligentiam in inquirendo eos ut inveniret. 6. Ita in terra habitant, ut in Antris vitam tolerare dicantur. 7. Si vel maxime omni ab omnibus diligentia quaesiti fuissent, nec inventi; fieri potest, ut instar Gigantum jam desierint nec sint amplius.]

[Footnote B: Plinij Hist. Nat. lib. 7. cap. 2. p.m. 14.]

Now how far Bartholine in his Treatise has made out that the Pygmies of the Ancients were real Men, either from the Authorities he has quoted, or his Reasonings upon them, I submit to the Reader. I shall proceed now (as I promised) to consider the Proof they pretend from Holy Writ: For Bartholine and others insist upon that Text in Ezekiel (Cap. 27. Vers. 11) where the Vulgar Translation has it thus; Filij Arvad cum Exercitu tuo supra Muros tuos per circuitum, & Pygmaei in Turribus tuis fuerunt; Scuta sua suspenderunt supra Muros tuos per circuitum. Now Talentonius and Bartholine think that what Ctesias relates of the Pygmies, as their being good Archers, very well illustrates this Text of Ezekiel: I shall here transcribe what Sir Thomas Brown[A] remarks upon it; and if any one requires further Satisfaction, they may consult Job Ludolphus's Comment on his AEthiopic History.[B]

[Footnote A: Sir Thomas Brown's Enquiries into Vulgar Errors, lib. 4. cap. 11. p. 242.]

[Footnote B: Comment. in Hist. AEthiopic. p. 73.]

The second Testimony (saith Sir Thomas Brown) is deduced from Holy Scripture; thus rendered in the Vulgar Translation, Sed & Pygmaei qui erant in turribus tuis, pharetras suas suspenderunt in muris tuis per gyrum: from whence notwithstanding we cannot infer this Assertion, for first the Translators accord not, and the Hebrew word Gammadim is very variously rendered. Though Aquila, Vatablus and Lyra will have it Pygmaei, yet in the Septuagint, it is no more than Watchman; and so in the Arabick and High-Dutch. In the Chalde, Cappadocians, in Symmachus, Medes, and in the French, those of Gamed. Theodotian of old, and Tremillius of late, have retained the Textuary word; and so have the Italian, Low Dutch, and English Translators, that is, the Men of Arvad were upon thy Walls round about, and the Gammadims were in thy Towers.

Nor do Men only dissent in the Translation of the word, but in the Exposition of the Sense and Meaning thereof; for some by Gammadims understand a People of Syria, so called from the City of Gamala; some hereby understand the Cappadocians, many the Medes: and hereof Forerius hath a singular Exposition, conceiving the Watchmen of Tyre, might well be called Pygmies, the Towers of that City being so high, that unto Men below, they appeared in a Cubital Stature. Others expound it quite contrary to common Acception, that is not Men of the least, but of the largest size; so doth Cornelius construe Pygmaei, or Viri Cubitales, that is, not Men of a Cubit high, but of the largest Stature, whose height like that of Giants, is rather to be taken by the Cubit than the Foot; in which phrase we read the measure of Goliah, whose height is said to be six Cubits and span. Of affinity hereto is also the Exposition of Jerom; not taking Pygmies for Dwarfs, but stout and valiant Champions; not taking the sense of [Greek: pygmae], which signifies the Cubit measure, but that which expresseth Pugils; that is, Men fit for Combat and the Exercise of the Fist. Thus there can be no satisfying illation from this Text, the diversity, or rather contrariety of Expositions and Interpretations, distracting more than confirming the Truth of the Story.

But why Aldrovandus or Caspar Bartholine should bring in St. Austin as a Favourer of this Opinion of Men Pygmies, I see no Reason. To me he seems to assert quite the contrary: For proposing this Question, An ex propagine Adam vel filiorum Noe, quaedam genera Hominum Monstrosa prodierunt? He mentions a great many monstrous Nations of Men, as they are described by the Indian Historians, and amongst the rest, the Pygmies, the Sciopodes, &c. And adds, Quid dicam de Cynocephalis, quorum Canina Capita atque ipse Latratus magis Bestias quam Homines confitentur? Sed omnia Genera Hominum, quae dicuntur esse, esse credere, non est necesse. And afterwards so fully expresses himself in favour of the Hypothesis I am here maintaining, that I think it a great Confirmation of it. Nam & Simias (saith he) & Cercopithecos, & Sphingas, si nesciremus non Homines esse, sed Bestias, possent isti Historici de sua Curiositate gloriantes velut Gentes Aliquas Hominum nobis impunita vanitate mentiri. At last he concludes and determines the Question thus, Aut illa, quae talia de quibusdam Gentibus scripta sunt, omnino nulla sunt, aut si sunt, Homines non sunt, aut ex Adam sunt si Homines sunt.

There is nothing therefore in St. Austin that justifies the being of Men Pygmies, or that the Pygmies were Men; he rather makes them Apes. And there is nothing in his Scholiast Ludovicus Vives that tends this way, he only quotes from other Authors, what might illustrate the Text he is commenting upon, and no way asserts their being Men. I shall therefore next enquire into Bochartus's Opinion, who would have them to be the Nubae or Nobae. Hos Nubas Troglodyticos (saith[A] he) ad Avalitem Sinum esse Pygmaeos Veterum multa probant. He gives us five Reasons to prove this. As, 1. The Authority of Hesychius, who saith, [Greek: Noboi Pygmaioi]. 2. Because Homer places the Pygmies near the Ocean, where the Nubae were. 3. Aristotle places them at the lakes of the Nile. Now by the Nile Bochartus tells us, we must understand the Astaborus, which the Ancients thought to be a Branch of the Nile, as he proves from Pliny, Solinus and AEthicus. And Ptolomy (he tells us) places the Nubae hereabout. 4. Because Aristotle makes the Pygmies to be Troglodytes, and so were the Nubae. 5. He urges that Story of Nonnosus which I have already mentioned, and thinks that those that Nonnosus met with, were a Colony of the Nubae; but afterwards adds, Quos tamen absit ut putemus Statura fuisse Cubitali, prout Poetae fingunt, qui omnia in majus augent. But this methinks spoils them from being Pygmies; several other Nations at this rate may be Pygmies as well as these Nubae. Besides, he does not inform us, that these Nubae used to fight the Cranes; and if they do not, and were not Cubitales, they can't be Homer's Pygmies, which we are enquiring after. But the Notion of their being Men, had so possessed him, that it put him upon fancying they must be the Nubae; but 'tis plain that those in Nonnosus could not be a Colony of the Nubae; for then the Nubae must have understood their Language, which the Text saith, none of the Neighbourhood did. And because the Nubae are Troglodytes, that therefore they must be Pygmies, is no Argument at all. For Troglodytes here is used as an Adjective; and there is a sort of Sparrow which is called Passer Troglodytes. Not but that in Africa there was a Nation of Men called Troglodytes, but quite different from our Pygmies. How far Bochartus may be in the right, in guessing the Lakes of the Nile (whereabout Aristotle places the Pygmies) to be the Fountains of the River Astaborus, which in his description, and likewise the Map, he places in the Country of the Avalitae, near the Mossylon Emporium; I shall not enquire. This I am certain of, he misrepresents Aristotle where he tells us,[B] Quamvis in ea fabula hoc saltem verum esse asserat Philosophus, Pusillos Homines in iis locis degere: for as I have already observed; Aristotle in that Text saith nothing at all of their being Men: the contrary rather might be thence inferred, that they were Brutes. And Bochart's Translation, as well as Gaza's is faulty here, and by no means to be allowed, viz. Ut aiunt, genus ibi parvum est tam Hominum, quam Equorum; which had Bochartus considered he would not have been so fond it may be of his Nubae. And if the [Greek: Noboi Pygmaioi] in Hesychius are such Pygmies as Bochartus makes his Nubae, Quos tamen absit ut putemus staturta fuisse Cubitali, it will not do our business at all; and neither Homer's Authority, nor Aristotle's does him any Service.

[Footnote A: Sam. Bochart. Geograph. Sacrae, Part. 1. lib. 2. cap. 23. p.m. 142.]

[Footnote B: Bocharti Hierozoici pars Posterior, lib. I. cap. II. p. 76.]

But this Fable of Men Pygmies has not only obtained amongst the Greeks and Indian Historians: the Arabians likewise tell much such Stories of them, as the same learned Bochartus informs us. I will give his Latin Translation of one of them, which he has printed in Arabick also: Arabes idem (saith[A] Bochartus) referunt ex cujusdam Graeculi fide, qui Jacobo Isaaci filio, Sigariensi fertur ita narrasse. Navigabam aliquando in mari Zingitano, & impulit me ventus in quandam Insulam. In cujus Oppidum cum devenissem, reperi Incolas Cubitalis esse staturae, & plerosque Coclites. Quorum multitudo in me congregata me deduxit ad Regem suum. Fussit is, ut Captivus detinerer; & inquandam Caveae speciem conjectus sum; eos autem aliquando ad bellum instrui cum viderem, dixerunt Hostem imminere, & fore ut propediem ingrueret. Nec multo post Gruum exercitus in eos insurrexit. Atque ideo erant Coclites, quod eorum oculos hae confodissent. Atque Ego, virga assumpta, in eas impetum feci, & illae avolarunt atque aufugerunt; ob quod facinus in honore fui apud illos. This Author, it seems, represents them under the same Misfortune with the Poet, who first mentioned them, as being blind, by having their Eyes peck'd out by their cruel Enemies. Such an Accident possibly might happen now and then, in these bloody Engagements, tho' I wonder the Indian Historians have not taken notice of it. However the Pygmies shewed themselves grateful to their Deliverer, in heaping Honours on him. One would guess, for their own sakes, they could not do less than make him their Generalissimo; but our Author is modest in not declaring what they were.

[Footnote A: Bochartus ibid. p.m. 77.]

Isaac Vossius seems to unsettle all, and endeavours utterly to ruine the whole Story: for he tells us, If you travel all over Africa, you shall not meet with either a Crane or Pygmie: Se mirari (saith[A] Isaac Vossius) Aristotelem, quod tam serio affirmet non esse fabellam, quae de Pygmaeis & Bello, quod cum Gruibus gerant, narrantur. Si quis totam pervadat Africam, nullas vel Grues vel Pygmaeos inveniet. Now one would wonder more at Vossius, that he should assert this of Aristotle, which he never said. And since Vossius is so mistaken in what he relates of Aristotle; where he might so easily have been in the right, 'tis not improbable, but he may be out in the rest too: For who has travelled all Africa over, that could inform him? And why should he be so peremptory in the Negative, when he had so positive an Affirmation of Aristotle to the contrary? or if he would not believe Aristotle's Authority, methinks he should Aristophanes's, who tells us,[B] [Greek: Speirein hotau men Geranos kroizon es taen libyaen metachorae]. 'Tis time to sow when the noisy Cranes take their flight into Libya. Which Observation is likewise made by Hesiod, Theognis, Aratus, and others. And Maximus Tyrius (as I find him quoted in Bochartus) saith, [Greek: Hai geravoi ex Aigyptou ora therous aphistamenai, ouk anechomenai to thalpos teinasai pterygas hosper istia, pherontai dia tou aeros euthy ton Skython gaes]. i.e. Grues per aestatem ex AEgypto abscedentes, quia Calorem pati non possunt, alis velorum instar expansis, per aerem ad Scythicam plagam recta feruntur. Which fully confirms that Migration of the Cranes that Aristotle mentions.

[Footnote A: Isaac Vossius de Nili aliorumque stuminum Origine, Cap. 18.]

[Footnote B: Aristophanes in Nubibus.]

But Vossius I find, tho' he will not allow the Cranes, yet upon second Thoughts did admit of Pygmies here: For this Story of the Pygmies and the Cranes having made so much noise, he thinks there may be something of truth in it; and then gives us his Conjecture, how that the Pygmies may be those Dwarfs, that are to be met with beyond the Fountains of the Nile; but that they do not fight Cranes but Elephants, and kill a great many of them, and drive a considerable Traffick for their teeth with the Jagi, who sell them to those of Congo and the Portuguese. I will give you Vossius's own words; Attamen (saith[A] he) ut solent fabellae non de nihilo fingi & aliquod plerunque continent veri, id ipsum quoque que hic factum esse existimo. Certum quippe est ultra Nili fontes multos reperiri Nanos, qui tamen non cum Gruibus, sed cum Elephantis perpetuum gerant bellum. Praecipuum quippe Eboris commercium in regno magni Macoki per istos transigitur Homunciones; habitant in Sylvis, & mira dexteritate Elephantos sagittis conficiunt. Carnibus vescuntur, Dentes vero Jagis divendunt, illi autem Congentibus & Lusitanis.

[Footnote A: Isaac Vossius ibid.]

Job Ludolphus[A] in his Commentary on his AEthiopick History remarks, That there was never known a Nation all of Dwarfs. Nani quippe (saith Ludolphus) Naturae quodam errore ex aliis justae staturae hominibus generantur. Qualis vero ea Gens sit, ex qua ista Naturae Ludibria tanta copia proveniant, Vossium docere oportelat, quia Pumiliones Pumiles alios non gignunt, sed plerunque steriles sunt, experientia teste; ut plane non opus habuerunt Doctores Talmudici Nanorum matrimonia prohibere, ne Digitales ex iis nascerentur. Ludolphus it may be is a little too strict with Vossius for calling them Nani; he may only mean a sort of Men in that Country of less Stature than ordinary. And Dapper in his History of Africa, from whom Vossius takes this Account, describes such in the Kingdom of Mokoko, he calls Mimos, and tells us that they kill Elephants. But I see no reason why Vossius should take these Men for the Pygmies of the Ancients, or think that they gave any occasion or ground for the inventing this Fable, is there was no other reason, this was sufficient, because they were able to kill the Elephants. The Pygmies were scarce a Match for the Cranes; and for them to have encountered an Elephant, were as vain an Attempt, as the Pygmies were guilty of in Philostratus[B] 'who to revenge the Death of Antaeus, having found Hercules napping in Libya, mustered up all their Forces against him. One Phalanx (he tells us) assaulted his left hand; but against his right hand, that being the stronger, two Phalanges were appointed. The Archers and Slingers besieged his feet, admiring the hugeness of his Thighs: But against his Head, as the Arsenal, they raised Batteries, the King himself taking his Post there. They set fire to his Hair, put Reaping-hooks in his Eyes; and that he might not breath, clapp'd Doors to his Mouth and Nostrils; but all the Execution that they could do, was only to awake him, which when done, deriding their folly, he gather'd them all up in his Lion's Skin, and carried them (Philostratus thinks) to Euristhenes.' This Antaeus was as remarkable for his height, as the Pygmies were for their lowness of Stature: For Plutarch[C] tells us, that Q. Sterorius not being willing to trust Common Fame, when he came to Tingis (now Tangier) he caused Antaeus's Sepulchre to be opened, and found his Corps full threescore Cubits long. But Sterorius knew well enough how to impose upon the Credulity of the People, as is evident from the Story of his white Hind, which Plutarch likewise relates.

[Footnote A: Job Ludolphus in Comment, in Historiam AEthiopicam, p.m. 71.]

[Footnote B: Philostratus. Icon. lib. 2. p.m. 817.]

[Footnote C: Plutarch. in vita Q. Sertorij.]

But to return to our Pygmies; tho' most of the great and learned Men would seem to decry this Story as a Fiction and mere Fable, yet there is something of Truth, they think, must have given the first rise to it, and that it was not wholly the product of Phancy, but had some real foundation, tho' disguised, according to the different Imagination and Genius of the Relator: 'Tis this that has incited them to give their several Conjectures about it. Job Ludolphus finding what has been offered at in Relation to the Pygmies, not to satisfie, he thinks he can better account for this Story, by leaving out the Cranes, and placing in their stead, another sort of Bird he calls the Condor. I will give you his own words: Sed ad Pygmaeos (saith [A] Ludolphus) revertamur; fabula de Geranomachia Pygmaeorum seu pugna cum Gruibus etiam aliquid de vero trahere videtur, si pro Gruibus Condoras intelligas, Aves in interiore Africa maximas, ut fidem pene excedat; aiunt enim quod Ales ista vitulum Elephanti in Aerem extollere possit; ut infra docebimus. Cum his Pygmaeos pugnare, ne pecora sua rapiant, incredibile non est. Error ex eo natus videtur, quod primus Relator, alio vocabulo destitutus, Grues pro Condoris nominarit, sicuti Plautus Picos pro Gryphilus, & Romani Boves lucas pro Elephantis dixere.

[Footnote A: Job Ludolphus Comment, in Historiam suam AEthiopic. p. 73.]

'Tis true, if what Juvenal only in ridicule mentions, was to be admitted as a thing really done, that the Cranes could fly away with a Pygmie, as our Kites can with a Chicken, there might be some pretence for Ludovicus's Condor or Cunctor: For he mentions afterwards[A] out of P. Joh. dos Santos the Portuguese, that 'twas observed that one of these Condors once flew away with an Ape, Chain, Clog and all, about ten or twelve pounds weight, which he carried to a neighbouring Wood, and there devoured him. And Garcilasso de la Vega[B] relates that they will seize and fly away with a Child ten or twelve years old. But Juvenal[C] only mentions this in ridicule and merriment, where he saith,

Adsubitas Thracum volucres, nubemque sonoram Pygmaeos parvis currit Bellator in armis: Mox impar hosti, raptusque per aera curvis Unguibus a faeva fertur Grue.

[Footnote A: Job Ludolphus ibid. pag. 164.]

[Footnote B: Garcilasso de la Vega Royal Comment, of Peru.]

[Footnote C: Juvenal Satyr. 13 vers. 167.]

Besides, were the Condors to be taken for the Cranes, it would utterly spoil the Pygmaeomachia; for where the Match is so very unequal, 'tis impossible for the Pygmies to make the least shew of a fight. Ludolphus puts as great hardships on them, to fight these Condors, as Vossius did, in making them fight Elephants, but not with equal Success; for Vossius's Pygmies made great Slaughters of the Elephants; but Ludolphus his Cranes sweep away the Pygmies, as easily as an Owl would a Mouse, and eat them up into the bargain; now I never heard the Cranes were so cruel and barbarous to their Enemies, tho' there are some Nations in the World that are reported to do so.

Moreover, these Condor's I find are very rare to be met with; and when they are, they often appear single or but a few. Now Homer's, and the Cranes of the Ancients, are always represented in Flocks. Thus Oppian[A] as I find him translated into Latin Verse:

Et velut AEthiopum veniunt, Nilique fluenta Turmalim Palamedis Aves, celsoeque per altum Aera labentes fugiunt Athlanta nivosum, Pygmaeos imbelle Genus, parvumque saligant, Non perturbato procedunt ordine densae Instructis volucres obscurant aera Turmis.

To imagine these Grues a single Gigantick Bird, would much lessen the Beauty of Homer's Simile, and would not have served his turn; and there are none who have borrowed Homer's fancy, but have thought so. I will only farther instance in Baptista Mantuan:

Pygmaei breve vulgus, iners Plelecula, quando Convenere Grues longis in praelia rostris, Sublato clamore fremunt, dumque agmine magno Hostibus occurrit, tellus tremit Indica, clamant Littora, arenarum nimbis absconditur aer; Omnis & involvit Pulvis solemque, Polumque, Et Genus hoc Hominum natura imbelle, quietum, Mite, facit Mavors pugnax, immane Cruentum.

[Footnote: A Oppian lib. I. de Piscibus.]

Having now considered and examined the various Opinions of these learned Men concerning this Pygmaeomachia; and represented the Reasons they give for maintaining their Conjectures; I shall beg leave to subjoyn my own: and if what at present I offer, may seem more probable, or account for this Story with more likelyhood, than what hath hitherto been advanced, I shall not think my time altogether misspent: But if this will not do, I shall never trouble my head more about them, nor think my self any ways concerned to write on this Argument again. And I had not done it now, but upon the occasion of Dissecting this Orang-Outang, or wild Man, which being a Native of Africa, and brought from Angola, tho' first taken higher up in the Country, as I was informed by the Relation given me; and observing so great a Resemblance, both in the outward shape, and, what surprized me more, in the Structure likewise of the inward Parts, to a Man; this Thought was easily suggested to me, That very probably this Animal, or some other such of the same Species, might give the first rise and occasion to the Stories of the Pygmies. What has been the [Greek: proton pheudos], and rendered this Story so difficult to be believed, I find hath been the Opinion that has generally obtained, that these Pygmies were really a Race of little Men. And tho' they are only Brutes, yet being at first call'd wild Men, no doubt from the Resemblance they bear to Men; there have not been wanting those especially amongst the Ancients, who have invented a hundred ridiculous Stories concerning them; and have attributed those things to them, were they to be believed in what they say, that necessarily conclude them real Men.

To sum up therefore what I have already discoursed, I think I have proved, that the Pygmies were not an Humane Species or Men. And tho' Homer, who first mentioned them, calls them [Greek: andres pygmaioi], yet we need not understand by this Expression any thing more than Apes: And tho' his Geranomachia hath been look'd upon by most only as a Poetical Fiction; yet by assigning what might be the true Cause of this Quarrel between the Cranes and Pygmies, and by divesting it of the many fabulous Relations that the Indian Historians, and others, have loaded it with, I have endeavoured to render it a true, at least a probable Story. I have instanced in Ctesias and the Indian Historians, as the Authors and Inventors of the many Fables we have had concerning them: Particularly, I have Examined those Relations, where Speech or Language is attributed to them; and shewn, that there is no reason to believe that they ever spake any Language at all. But these Indian Historians having related so many extravagant Romances of the Pygmies, as to render their whole History suspected, nay to be utterly denied, that there were ever any such Creatures as Pygmies in Nature, both by Strabo of old, and most of our learned men of late, I have endeavoured to assert the Truth of their being, from a Text in Aristotle; which being so positive in affirming their Existence, creates a difficulty, that can no ways be got over by such as are of the contrary Opinion. This Text I have vindicated from the false Interpretations and Glosses of several Great Men, who had their Minds so prepossessed and prejudiced with the Notion of Men Pygmies, that they often would quote it, and misapply it, tho' it contain'd nothing that any ways favoured their Opinion; but the contrary rather, that they were Brutes, and not Men.

And that the Pygmies were really Brutes, I think I have plainly proved out of Herodotus and Philostratus, who reckon them amongst the wild Beasts that breed in those Countries: For tho' by Herodotus they are call'd [Greek: andres agrioi], and Philostratus calls them [Greek: anthropous melanas], yet both make them [Greek: theria] or wild Beasts. And I might here add what Pausanias[A] relates from Euphemus Car, who by contrary Winds was driven upon some Islands, where he tells us, [Greek: en de tautais oikein andras agrious], but when he comes to describe them, tells us that they had no Speech; that they had Tails on their Rumps; and were very lascivious toward the Women in the Ship. But of these more, when we come to discourse of Satyrs.

[Footnote A: Pausanias in Atticis, p.m. 21.]

And we may the less wonder to find that they call Brutes Men, since 'twas common for these Historians to give the Title of Men, not only to Brutes, but they were grown so wanton in their Inventions, as to describe several Nations of Monstrous Men, that had never any Being, but in their own Imagination, as I have instanced in several. I therefore excuse Strabo, for denying the Pygmies, since he could not but be convinced, they could not be such Men, as these Historians have described them. And the better to judge of the Reasons that some of the Moderns have given to prove the Being of Men Pygmies, I have laid down as Postulata's, that hereby we must not understand Dwarfs, nor yet a Nation of Men, tho' somewhat of a lesser size and stature than ordinary; but we must observe those two Characteristicks that Homer gives of them, that they are Cubitales and fight Cranes.

Having premised this, I have taken into consideration Caspar Bartholine Senior his Opusculum de Pygmaeis, and Jo. Talentonius's Dissertation about them: and upon examination do find, that neither the Humane Authorities, nor Divine that they alledge, do any ways prove, as they pretend, the Being of Men Pygmies. St. Austin, who is likewise quoted on their side, is so far from favouring this Opinion, that he doubts whether any such Creatures exist, and if they do, concludes them to be Apes or Monkeys; and censures those Indian Historians for imposing such Beasts upon us, as distinct Races of Men. Julius Caesar Scaliger, and Isaac Casaubon, and Adrian Spigelius utterly deny the Being of Pygmies, and look upon them as a Figment only of the Ancients, because such little Men as they describe them to be, are no where to be met with in all the World. The Learned Bochartus tho' he esteems the Geranomachia to be a Fable, and slights it, yet thinks that what might give the occasion to the Story of the Pygmies, might be the Nubae or Nobae; as Isaac Vossius conjectures that it was those Dwarfs beyond the Fountains of the Nile, that Dapper calls the Mimos, and tells us, they kill Elephants for to make a Traffick with their Teeth. But Job Ludolphus alters the Scene, and instead of Cranes, substitutes his Condors, who do not fight the Pygmies, but fly away with them, and then devour them.

Now all these Conjectures do no ways account for Homer's Pygmies and Cranes, they are too much forced and strain'd. Truth is always easie and plain. In our present Case therefore I think the Orang-Outang, or wild Man, may exactly supply the place of the Pygmies, and without any violence or injury to the Story, sufficiently account for the whole History of the Pygmies, but what is most apparently fabulous; for what has been the greatest difficulty to be solved or satisfied, was their being Men; for as Gesner remarks (as I have already quoted him) Sed veterum nullus aliter de Pygmaeis scripsit, quam Homunciones esse. And the Moderns too, being byassed and misguided by this Notion, have either wholly denied them, or contented themselves in offering their Conjectures what might give the first rise to the inventing this Fable. And tho' Albertus, as I find him frequently quoted, thought that the Pygmies might be only a sort of Apes, and he is placed in the Head of those that espoused this Opinion, yet he spoils all, by his way of reasoning, and by making them speak; which was more than he needed to do.

I cannot see therefore any thing that will so fairly solve this doubt, that will reconcile all, that will so easily and plainly make out this Story, as by making the Orang-Outang to be the Pygmie of the Ancients; for 'tis the same Name that Antiquity gave them. For Herodotus's [Greek: andres agrioi], what can they be else, than Homines Sylvestres, or wild Men? as they are now called. And Homer's [Greek: andres pygmaioi], are no more an Humane Kind, or Men, then Herodotus's [Greek: andres agrioi], which he makes to be [Greek: theria], or wild Beasts: And the [Greek: andres mikroi] or [Greek: melanes] (as they are often called) were just the same. Because this sort of Apes had so great a resemblance to Men, more than other Apes or Monkeys; and they going naturally erect, and being designed by Nature to go so, (as I have shewn in the Anatomy) the Ancients had a very plausible ground for giving them this denomination of [Greek: andres] or [Greek: anthropoi], but commonly they added an Epithet; as [Greek: agrioi, mikroi, pygmaioi, melanes], or some such like. Now the Ancient Greek and Indian Historians, tho' they might know these Pygmies to be only Apes like Men, and not to be real Men, yet being so extremely addicted to Mythology, or making Fables, and finding this so fit a Subject to engraft upon, and invent Stories about, they have not been wanting in furnishing us with a great many very Romantick ones on this occasion. And the Moderns being imposed upon by them, and misguided by the Name of [Greek: andres] or [Greek: anthropoi], as if thereby must be always understood an Humane Kind, or real Men, they have altogether mistaken the Truth of the Story, and have either wholly denied it, or rendered it as improbable by their own Conjectures.

This difficulty therefore of their being called Men, I think, may fairly enough be accounted by what I have said. But it may be objected that the Orang-Outang, or these wild or savage Men are not [Greek: pygmaioi], or Trispithami, that is, but two Foot and a quarter high, because by some Relations that have been given, it appears they have been observed to be of a higher stature, and as tall as ordinary Men. Now tho' this may be allowed as to these wild Men that are bred in other places; and probably enough like wise, there are such in some Parts of the Continent of Africa; yet 'tis sufficient to our business if there are any there, that will come within our Dimensions; for our Scene lies in Africa; where Strabo observes, that generally the Beasts are of a less size than ordinary; and this he thinks might give rise to the Story of the Pygmies. For, saith he[A] [Greek: Ta de boskaemata autois esti mikra, probata kai aiges, kai kynes mikroi, tracheis de kai machimoi (oikountes mikroi ontes) tacha de kai tous pygmaious apo tes touton mikrophyias epenoaesan, kai aneplasan.] i.e. That their Beasts are small, as their Sheep, Goats and Oxen, and their Dogs are small, but hairy and fierce: and it may be (saith he) from the [Greek: mikrophyia] or littleness of the stature of these Animals, they have invented and imposed on us the Pygmies. And then adds, That no body fit to be believed ever saw them; because he fancied, as a great many others have done, that these Pygmies must be real Men, and not a sort of Brutes. Now since the other Brutes in this Country are generally of a less size than in other Parts, why may not this sort of Ape, the Orang-Outang, or wild Man, be so likewise. Aristotle speaking of the Pygmies, saith, [Greek: genos mikron men kai autoi, kai oi hippoi.] That both they and the Horses there are but small. He does not say their Horses, for they were never mounted upon Horses, but only upon Partridges, Goats and Rams. And as the Horses, and other Beasts are naturally less in Africa than in other Parts, so likewise may the Orang-Outang be. This that I dissected, which was brought from Angola (as I have often mentioned) wanted something of the just stature of the Pygmies; but it was young, and I am therefore uncertain to what tallness it might grow, when at full Age: And neither Tulpius, nor Gassendus, nor any that I have hitherto met with, have adjusted the full stature of this Animal that is found in those parts from whence ours was brought: But 'tis most certain, that there are sorts of Apes that are much less than the Pygmies are described to be. And, as other Brutes, so the Ape-kind, in different Climates, may be of different Dimensions; and because the other Brutes here are generally small, why may not they be so likewise. Or if the difference should be but little, I see no great reason in this case, why we should be over-nice, or scrupulous.

[Footnote A: Strabo Geograph. lib. 17. p.m. 565.]

As to our Ape Pygmies or Orang-Outang fighting the Cranes, this, I think, may be easily enough made out, by what I have already observed; for this wild Man I dissected was Carnivorous, and it may be Omnivorous, at least as much as Man is; for it would eat any thing that was brought to the Table. And if it was not their Hunger that drove them to it, their Wantonness, it may be, would make them apt enough to rob the Cranes Nests; and if they did so, no doubt but the Cranes would noise enough about it, and endeavour what they could to beat them off, which a Poet might easily make a Fight: Tho' Homer only makes use of it as a Simile, in comparing the great Shouts of the Trojans to the Noise of the Cranes, and the Silence of the Greeks to that of the Pygmies when they are going to Engage, which is natural enough, and very just, and contains nothing, but what may easily be believed; tho' upon this account he is commonly exposed, and derided, as the Inventor of this Fable; and that there was nothing of Truth in it, but that 'twas wholly a Fiction of his own.

Those Pygmies that Paulus Jovius[A] describes, tho' they dwell at a great distance from Africa, and he calls them Men, yet are so like Apes, that I cannot think them any thing else. I will give you his own words: Ultra Lapones (saith he) in Regione inter Corum & Aquilonem perpetua oppressa Caligine Pygmaeos reperiri, aliqui eximiae fidei testes retulerunt; qui postquam ad summum adoleverint, nostratis Pueri denum annorum Mensuram vix excedunt. Meticulosum genus hominum, & garritu Sermonem exprimens, adeo ut tam Simiae propinqui, quam Statura ac sensibus ab justae Proceritatis homine remoti videantur. Now there is this Advantage in our Hypothesis, it will take in all the Pygmies, in any part of the World; or wherever they are to be met with, without supposing, as some have done, that 'twas the Cranes that forced them to quit their Quarters; and upon this account several Authors have described them in different places: For unless we suppose the Cranes so kind to them, as to waft them over, how came we to find them often in Islands? But this is more than can be reasonably expected from so great Enemies.

[Footnote A: Paul. Jovij de Legatione Muschovitar. lib. p.m. 489.]

I shall conclude by observing to you, that this having been the Common Error of the Age, in believing the Pygmies to be a sort of little Men, and it having been handed down from so great Antiquity, what might contribute farther to the confirming of this Mistake, might be, the Imposture of the Navigators, who failing to Parts where these Apes are, they have embalmed their Bodies, and brought them home, and then made the People believe that they were the Men of those Countries from whence they came. This M.P. Venetus assures us to have been done; and 'tis not unlikely: For, saith he,[A] Abundat quoque Regio ipsa (sc. Basman in Java majori) diversis Simiis magnis & parvis, hominibus simillimis, hos capiunt Venatores & totos depilant, nisi quod, in barba & in loco secreto Pilos relinquunt, & occisos speciebus Aromaticis condiunt, & postea desiccant, venduntque Negociatoribus, qui per diversas Orbis Partes Corpora illa deferentes, homines persuadent Tales Homunciones in Maris Insulis reperiri. Joh. Jonston[B] relates the same thing, but without quoting the Author; and as he is very apt to do, commits a great mistake, in telling us, pro Homunculis marinis venditant.

[Footnote A: M. Pauli Veneti de Regionibus Oriental. lib. 3. cap. 15. p. m. 390.]

[Footnote B: Jo. Jonston. Hist. Nat. de Quadruped. p.m. 139.]

I shall only add, That the Servile Offices that these Creatures are observed to perform, might formerly, as it does to this very day, impose upon Mankind to believe, that they were of the same Species with themselves; but that only out of Sullenness or cunning, they think they will not speak, for fear of being made Slaves. Philostratus[A] tells us, That the Indians make use of the Apes in gathering the Pepper; and for this Reason they do defend and preserve them from the Lions, who are very greedy of preying upon them: And altho' he calls them Apes, yet he speaks of them as Men, and as if they were the Husbandmen of the Pepper Trees, [Greek: kai ta dendra oi piperides, on georgoi pithekoi]. And he calls them the People of Apes; [Greek: ou legetai pithekon oikein demos en mychois tou orous]. Dapper[B] tells us, That the Indians take the Baris when young, and make them so tame, that they will do almost the work of a Slave; for they commonly go erect as Men do. They will beat Rice in a Mortar, carry Water in a Pitcher, &c. And Gassendus[C] in the Life of Pieresky, tells us, us, That they will play upon a Pipe or Cittern, or the like Musick, they will sweep the House, turn the Spit, beat in a Mortar, and do other Offices in a Family. And Acosta, as I find him quoted by Garcilasso de la Vega[D] tells us of a Monkey he saw at the Governour's House at Cartagena, 'whom they fent often to the Tavern for Wine, with Money in one hand, and a Bottle in the other; and that when he came to the Tavern, he would not deliver his Money, until he had received his Wine. If the Boys met with him by the way, or made a houting or noise after him, he would set down his Bottle, and throw Stones at them; and having cleared the way he would take up his Bottle, and hasten home, And tho' he loved Wine excessively, yet he would not dare to touch it, unless his Master gave him License.' A great many Instances of this Nature might be given that are very surprising. And in another place he tells us, That the Natives think that they can speak, but will not, for fear of being made to work. And Bontius[E] mentions that the Javans had the same Opinion concerning the Orang-Outang, Loqui vero eos, easque Javani aiunt, sed non velle, ne ad labores cogerentur.

[Footnote A: Philostratus in vita Apollonij Tyanaei, lib. 3. cap. I. p. m. 110, & 111.]

[Footnote B: Dapper Description de l'Afrique, p.m. 249.]

[Footnote C: Gassendus in vita Pierskij, lib. 5. p.m. 169.]

[Footnote D: Garcilasso de la Vega Royal Commentaries of Peru, lib. 8. cap. 18. p. 1333.]

[Footnote E: Jac. Bontij Hist. Nat. & Med. lib. 5. cap. 32. p.m. 85.]

* * * * *

[NOTE.—A few obvious errors in the quotations have been corrected, but for the most part they stand as in Tyson, who must, therefore, be held responsible for any inaccuracies which may exist.]


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