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0320 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 320 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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oathuz roe.' Departing thence, I came into Armenia the Greater, to a certain city which is called ARZIRON,2 which in time long past was a fine and most wealthy city, and it would have been so unto this day but for the Tartars and the Saracens, who have done it much damage. It aboundeth greatly in bread and flesh, and many other kinds of victual, but not in wine or fruits. For the city is mighty cold, and folk say that it is the highest city that is at this day inhabited on the whole face of the earth. But it hath most excellent water, the reason whereof seems to be that the springs of this water are derived from the River Euphrates, which floweth at about one day's journey from the city.3 And this city is just midway to Tauris.4

I I find no confirmation of this. Venni says the Acta Sanctorum contain no allusion to the story. The body of Athanasius was buried at Alexandria, but afterwards transferred to Constantinople and laid in a church bearing his name. On the capture of the city the relics were said to have been carried to Venice and solemnly placed in the church of Sta. Croce della Giudecca. (Venni, 87.)

Can this have to do with Odoric's statement ? " Over one of the principal gates (of Trebizond) is a long inscription, which refers to a Christian bishop and one of the emperors of Constantinople. It is evidently not in its original position." (Brant., u. s., p. 189.)

2 Erzrum, corrupted from Arzan-al-Rum, or Roman Arzan, was taken with pillage and havoc by the Tartars in 1241. Even in Tournefort's time the Franks commonly pronounced the name Erzeron. Though not the highest city, even of the old world, it stands at a height of some 7,000 feet above the sea, and is noted for the severity of its winters, insomuch that a late Italian traveller calls it the Siberia of the Ottoman Empire. In 1855-56 the centigrade thermometer sunk to 35° below 0°. Sir J. Sheil saw a heavy snowstorm at Erzrum in July. The weather as a general rule," says Curzon, may be considered as on the way from bad to worse." Fruit does not grow, but great quantities of " victual," i. e., of corn and meal, are brought from more genial regions, as it is the place where the great caravans between Persia and Turkey recruit their stores. (Curzon, pp. 36, 51, 115, 117, 141; Lady Shiel's Glimpses of Life, etc., in Persia; De' Bianchi, V. in Armenia, etc., 1863; Tournefort, iii, 126.) The Franciscans at this time had a convent at Erzrum, in the custodia of Kars.

3 The town    is on a sort of peninsula formed by the sources of
Euphrates. The first of these flows at a day's journey from the city." (Tournefort, iii, 114.)

4 MIN. RAM., and PAL. insert here a strange and unseemly story which is in none of the Latin copies.