XXVI. These things, then, may be said by us with respect to the argument that the inequalities of the surface of the earth are no proof of the world having been created and being liable to destruction; (138) but with respect to that argument which was endeavoured to be established by the diminution of the sea, we may reasonably adduce this statement in opposition to it: “Do not look only at the islands which have risen up out of the sea, nor at any portions of land which, having been formerly buried by the waters, have in subsequent times become dry land; for obstinate contention is very unfavourable to the consideration of natural philosophy, which considers the search after truth to be the chief object of rational desire; but look rather at the contrary effects: consider how many districts on the main-land, not only such as were near the coast, but even such as were completely in-land, have been swallowed up by the waters; and consider how great a portion of land has become sea and is now sailed over by innumerable ships.” (139) Are you ignorant of the celebrated account which is given of that most sacred Sicilian strait, which in old times joined Sicily to the continent of Italy?{22}{this is alluded to by Virgil, Aen. 3.419 (as it is translated by Dryden)–“The Italian shore / And fair Sicilia’s coast were one before / An earthquake caused the flaw; the roaring tides / The passage broke that land from land divides, / And where the lands retired the rushing ocean rides / Distinguished by the straits on either hand / Now rising cities in long order stand, / And fruitful fields; so much can time invade / The mouldering work that beauteous nature made.”} and where vast seas on each side being excited by violent storms met together, coming from opposite directions, the land between them was overwhelmed and broken away; from which circumstance the city built in the neighbourhood was called Rhegium, {23}{rheµgion, from rheµgnymi, “to break.”} and the result was quite different from what any one would have expected; for the seas which had formerly been separated now flowed together and were united in one expanse; and the land which had previously united was now separated into two portions by the strait which intersected it, in consequence of which Sicily, which had previously formed a part of the mainland, was now compelled to be an island. (140) And it is said that many other cities also have disappeared, having been swallowed up by the sea which overwhelmed them; since they speak of three in Peloponnesus–

“Aegira and fair Bura’s walls,

And Helica’s lofty halls,

And many a once renowned town,

With wreck and seaweed overgrown,”

as having been formerly prosperous, but now overwhelmed by the violent influx of the sea. (141) And the island of Atalantes which was greater than Africa and Asia, as Plato says in the Timaeus, in one day and night was overwhelmed beneath the sea in consequence of an extraordinary earthquake and inundation and suddenly disappeared, becoming sea, not indeed navigable, but full of gulfs and eddies. (142) Therefore that imaginary and fictitious diminution of the sea has no connection with the destruction or durability of the world; for in fact it appears to recede indeed from some parts, but to rise higher in others; and it would have been proper rather not to look at only one of these results but at both together, and so to form one’s opinion, since in all the disputed questions which arise in human life, a wise and honest judge will not deliver his opinion before he has heard the arguments of the advocates on both sides.