Of the Way from Constantinople to Jerusalem. Of Saint John the Evangelist. And of the Daughter of Ypocras, transformed from a Woman to a Dragon
NOW return I again, to teach you the way from Constantinople to Jerusalem. He that will, goeth through Turkey toward the city of Nyke (Nicea,) and passeth through the Gate of Chienetout (Gemlik,) and always Men see before them the Hill of Chienetout, that is right high; and it is a Mile and a half from Nyke.
And whoso will go by Water, by the Brace of St. George, and by the Sea where St. Nicholas lieth, and toward many other Placesfirst Men go to an Isle that is clept Sylo (Scio). In that Isle groweth Mastick on small Trees, and out of them cometh Gum, as it were of Plum-trees or of Cherry-trees.
And after Men go through the Isle of Patmos; and there wrote St. John the Evangelist the Apocalypse. And ye shall understand, that St. John was of Age 32 Year, when our Lord suffered His Passion; and after His Passion, he lived 67 Year, and in the 100th Year of his Age he died.
From Patmos Men go unto Ephesus, a fair City and nigh to the Sea. And there died St. John, and was buried behind the high Altar in a Tomb. And there is a fair Church; for Christian Men were wont to hold that Place always. And in the Tomb of St. John is nought but Manna, that is clept Angels Meat; for his Body was translated into Paradise. And the Turks now hold all that Place, and the City and the Church (and all Asia the Less is a-clept Turkey). And ye shall understand, that St. John let make his Grave there in his Life, and laid himself therein all alive; and therefore some Men say, that he died not, but that he resteth there till the Day of Doom. And, forsooth, there is a great Marvel; for Men may see there the Earth of the Tomb openly many times stir and move, as though there were alive Things underneath.
And from Ephesus Men go through many Isles in the Sea, unto the City of Patera, where St. Nicholas was born, and so to Martha (Myra), where he was chosen to be Bishop; and there groweth right good Wine and strong, and that Men call Wine of Martha. And from thence go Men to the Isle of Crete, that the Emperor gave sometime to the Genoese.
And then pass Men through the Isles of Colos and of Lango (Cos,) of the which Isles Ypocras1 was Lord. And some Men say, that in the Isle of Lango is yet the Daughter of Ypocras, in Form and Likeness of a great Dragon, that is a 100 Fathom of Length, as Men say, for I have not seen her. And they of the Isles call her Lady of the Land. And she lieth in an old Castle, in a Cave, and sheweth twice or thrice in the Year, and she doth no Harm to no Man, but if Men do her Harm. And she was thus changed and transformed, from a fair Damosel, into Likeness of a Dragon, by a Goddess that was clept Diana. And Men say, that she shall so endure in that Form of a Dragon, unto the Time that a Knight come, that is so hardy, that dare come to her and kiss her on the Mouth; and then shall she turn again to her own Kind, and be a Woman again, but after that she shall not live long.
And it is not long since, that a Knight of Rhodes, that was hardy and doughty in Arms, said that he would kiss her. And when he was upon his Courser, and went to the Castle, and entered into the Cave, the Dragon lift up her Head against him. And when the Knight saw her in that Form so hideous and so horrible he fled away. And the Dragon bare the Knight upon a Rock, maugre his Head; and from that Rock, she cast him into the Sea. And so was lost both Horse and Man.
And also a young Man, that wist not of the Dragon, went out of a Ship, and went through the Isle till that he came to the Castle, and came into the Cave, and went so long, till that he found a Chamber; and there he saw a Damosel that combed her Head and looked in a Mirror; and she had much Treasure about her. And he trowed that she had been a common Woman, that dwelled there to receive Men to Folly. And he abode, till the Damosel saw the Shadow of him in the Mirror. And she turned her toward him, and asked him what he would? And he said, he would be her Leman or Paramour. And she asked him, if that he were a Knight? And he said, Nay. And then she said, that he might not be her Leman; but she bade him go again unto his Fellows, and make him Knight, and come again upon the Morrow, and she should come out of the Cave before him, and then he should come and kiss her on the Mouth and have no Dread,for I shall do thee no manner of Harm, albeit that thou see me in Likeness of a Dragon; for though thou see me hideous and horrible to look on, I charge thee to know that it is made by Enchantment; for without Doubt, I am none other than thou seest now, a Woman, and therefore dread thou nought. And if thou kiss me, thou shalt have all this Treasure, and be my Lord, and Lord also of all the Isle.
And he departed from her and went to his Fellows to the Ship, and let make him a Knight and came again upon the Morrow to kiss this Damosel. And when he saw her come out of the Cave in Form of a Dragon, so hideous and horrible, he had so great Dread, that he fled again to the Ship, and she followed him. And when she saw that he turned not again, she began to cry, as a Thing that had much Sorrow; and then she turned again into her Cave. And anon the Knight died. And since then might no Knight see her, but that he died anon. But when a Knight cometh, that is so hardy to kiss her, he shall not die; but he shall turn the Damosel into her right Form and natural Shape, and he shall be Lord of all the Countries and Isles abovesaid.
And from thence Men come to the Isle of Rhodes, the which Isle the Hospitallers hold and govern; and that took they some-time from the Emperor. And it was wont to be clept Collos;2 and so the Turks call it yet. And Saint Paul in his Epistle writes to them of that Isle ad Colossenses.3 This Isle is nigh 800 Mile from Constantinople.
And Men pass by that Way, by a Place that was wont to be a great City, and a great Land; and the City was clept Cathailye (Satalia), the which City and Land was lost through Folly of a young Man. For he had a fair Damosel, that he loved well for his Paramour; and she died suddenly, and was put in a Tomb of Marble. And for the great Lust that he had to her, he went in the Night unto her Tomb and opened it, and went in and lay by her, and went his Way. And when it came to the End of 9 Months, there came a Voice to him and said, Go to the Tomb of that Woman, and open it and behold what thou hast begotten on her; and if thou fail to go, thou shalt have a great Harm. And he went and opened the Tomb, and there fled out an Head right hideous to see; the which all swiftly flew about the City and the Country, and soon after the City sank down. And there be many perilous Passages.4
From Rhodes to Cyprus be 500 Mile and more. But Men may go to Cyprus, and not touch at Rhodes. Cyprus is a right good Isle, and a fair and a great, and it hath 4 principal Cities within him. And there is an Archbishop at Nicosea, and 4 other Bishops in that Land. And at Famagusta is one of the principal Havens of the Sea that is in the World; and there arrive Christian Men and Saracens and Men of all Nations. In Cyprus is the Hill of the Holy Cross; and there is an Abbey of black Monks, and there is the Cross of Dismas the good Thief, as I have said before. And some Men trow, that there is half the Cross of our Lord; but it is not so, and they do Evil that make Men to believe so.
In Cyprus lieth Saint Zenonimus, of whom Men of that Country make great Solemnity. And in the Castle of Amours lieth the Body of Saint Hilarion, and Men keep it right worshipfully. And beside Famagusta was Saint Barnabas the Apostle born.
In Cyprus Men hunt with Papyonns, that be like Leopards, and they take wild Beasts right well, and they be somewhat more big than Lions; and they take more sharply the Beasts, and more nimbly than do Hounds.
In Cyprus it is the Manner of Lords and all other Men to eat on the Earth. For they make Ditches in the Earth all about in the Hall, deep to the Knee, and they do pave them; and when they will eat, they go therein and sit there. And the Reason is that they may be the more cool; for that Land is much more hotter than it is here. And at great Feasts, and for Strangers, they set Forms and Tables, as Men do in this Country, but they had rather sit in the Earth.
From Cyprus, Men go to the Land of Jerusalem by the Sea: and in a Day and in a Night, he that hath good Wind may come to the Haven of Tyre, that is now clept Sur. There was some-time a great City and a good of Christian Men, but Saracens have destroyed it a great Part; and they keep that Haven right well, for Dread of Christian Men. Men might go more straight to that Haven, and touch not at Cyprus, but they go gladly to Cyprus to rest them on the Land, or else to buy Things, that they have need for their Living. On the Sea-side Men may find many Rubies. And there is the Well, the which Holy Writ speaketh of, and saith, Fons Ortorum, et Puteus Aquarum viventium: that is to say, The Well of Gardens, and the Ditch of Living Waters.
In this City of Tyre, said the Woman to our Lord, Beatus Venter qui Te portavit, et Ubera que succisti: that is to say, Blessed be the Body that bare Thee, and the Paps that Thou suckedst. And there our Lord forgave the Woman of Canaan her Sins. And before Tyre was wont to be the Stone, on the which our Lord sat and preached, and on that Stone was founded the Church of Saint Saviour.
And 8 mile from Tyre, toward the East, upon the Sea, is the City of Sarphen (Sûrafend) in Sarepta of the Sidonians. There was wont to dwell Elijah the Prophet; and there raised he Jonas, the Widows Son, from Death to Life. And 5 Mile from Sarphen is the City of Sidon; of the which City, Dido was Lady, that was Eneas Wife, after the Destruction of Troy, and that founded the City of Carthage in Africa, now clept Didonsarte. And in the City of Tyre, reigned Agenor, the Father of Dido. And 16 Mile from Sidon is Beirout. And from Beirout to Sardenare is 3 Days Journey. And from Sardenare it is 5 Mile to Damascus.
And whoso will go long time on the Sea, and come nearer to Jerusalem, he shall go by Sea to the Port Jaffa. For that is the next Haven to Jerusalem; for from that Haven is not but one Days Journey and an half to Jerusalem. And the Town is called Jaffa; for one of the Sons of Noah named Japhet founded it, and now it is clept Joppa. And ye shall understand, that it is one of the oldest Towns of the World, for it was founded before Noahs Flood. And even yet the Rock showeth there, how the Iron Chains were fastened, that Andromeda, a great Giant, was bounden with,5 and put in Prison before Noahs Flood. And there be Bones of the Giants Side 40 Foot long.
And whoso will arrive at the Port of Tyre or of Sur, that I have first spoken of before, may go by Land, if he will, to Jerusalem. And Men go from Sur unto the City of Acre in a Day. And it was clept some-time Ptolemaïs. And it was some-time a City of Christian Men, and full fair, but it is now destroyed; and it stands upon the Sea. And from Venice to Acre, by Sea, is 2080 Lombardy Miles; and from Calabria, or from Sicily to Acre, by Sea, is 1300 Lombardy Miles; and the Isle of Crete is right in the Midway.
And beside the City of Acre, toward the Sea, 120 Furlongs on the right Side, toward the South, is the Hill of Carmel, where Elijah the Prophet dwelled, and there was the Order of Friars Carmelites first founded. This Hill is not right great, nor full high. And at the Foot of this Hill was some-time a good City of Christian Men, that Men clept Caiffa, for Caiaphas first founded it; but it is now all waste. And on the left Side of the Hill of Carmel is a Town, that Men call Saffre (Sephoris,) and that is set on another Hill. There Saint James and Saint John were born; and, in Worship of them there is a fair Church. And from Ptolemaïs, that Men now call Acre, unto a great Hill, that is clept the Scale (or Ladder) of Tyre, is 100 Furlongs. And beside the City of Acre runneth a little River, that is clept Belon (Belus).
And there nigh is the Foss of Mennon that is all round; and it is 100 Cubits of Largeness, and it is all full of Gravel, shining bright, of the which Men make fair and clear Verres (or Crystal Glasses). And Men come from far, by Water in Ships, and by Land with Carts, to fetch of that Gravel. And though there be never so much taken away thereof in the Day, at the Morrow it is as full again as ever it was; and that is a great Marvel. And there is evermore great Wind in that Foss, that stirreth evermore the Gravel, and maketh it troubled. And if any Man put therein any sort of Metal, it turneth anon to Glass. And the Glass, that is made of that Gravel, if it be put again into the Gravel, it turneth anon into Gravel as it was first. And therefore some Men say, that it is a Whirlpool of the gravelly Sea.
And from Acre, above-said, Men go forth 4 Days Journey to the City of Palestine, that was of the Philistines, that now is clept Gaza, that is a gay City and a rich; and it is right fair and full of Folk, and it is a little from the Sea. And from this City brought Samson the Strong the Gates upon an high Land, when he was taken in that City, and there he slew in a Palace the King and himself, and great Number of the best of the Philistines, the which had put out his Eyes and shaved his Head, and imprisoned him by Treason of Delilah his Paramour. And therefore he made fall upon them a great Hall, when they were at Meat.