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Alvares, Manuel, 1526-1583, et al. / Ethiopia Minor and a geographical account of the Province of Sierra Leone : (c. 1615)

Chapter 13: The Biafar heathen,   pp. 1-6 ff.

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zone. Now the same may be presumed of the zone around the other pole,
since the Cabo de Bom Sinal, beyond the Straits of Magellan, which
lies in that direction, does not have cold so excessive that Europeans
cannot tolerate it. And those who are born there and have long exper-
ience of it must even become accustomed to it.
The second stage is to examine into the aspects ahd characteristics
of zones and thus to discover which partsof the earth are healthier and
more favorable to life. For it is certain that there are some lands in
which men live longer, or have /f.42/ greater skills and better
inclinations, than in others; and that in some lands men are black and
in others white; and that at one place they are cruel and inhuman, but
at another thoroughly well-disposed and gentle. As regards these differ-
ences, although some are the effects in large part of ancestry, and
others arise from lack of trade and cultural contact, two elements which
teach civilised order, yet it cannot be denied that they (ultimately)
derive, like all other differences, from the characteristics of the land
of birth.(C)   In respect of ease of habitation, the frigid zones are
less suitable to live in than all the others. This arises from the
great cold, which, because it is contrary And hostile to human life,
makes these lands least healthy and shortens the span of life. The
torrid zone is good to live in and better than the temperate ff frigid7
meridians, for this reason. In the torrid zone the heat of the day is
tempered by the cool of the night, the favorable influences of the cold
plancts, Saturn and the Moon, being more effective in this area because
they impinge on it at an angle closer to the perpendicular than on any
other part of the earth. Hence, according to Avicenna and other
philosophers, it is healthier and better suited for human life. Also
there are persons who say that this is the best and most healthy land
of all those on earth because they suspect that here is found the
Earthly Paradise, even though this is raised above the earth.
Nevertheless the North temperate zone in which we (Europeans) live
is the best suited of all, and within it the best areas are those at
53 , or rather, at 360 of latitude. The reason is that the temperate
zones lack excessive heat and cold, and hence are considered healthier
and better. In them men live longer, have greater skills and better

(c) Juntino, in Expositio Sphaerae Sacro Bosci, chapter 20.


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