Suetonius Paulinus*, whom we have seen Consul in our own time, was the first Roman general who advanced a distance of some miles beyond Mount Atlas. [...] He informs us that the summit of this mountain is covered with snow even in summer, and says that having arrived there after a march of ten days, he proceeded some distance beyond it as far as a river which bears the name of Ger; the road being through deserts covered with black sand, from which rocks that bore the appearance of having been exposed to the action of fire, projected every here and there; localities rendered quite uninhabitable by the intensity of the heat, as he himself experienced, although it was in the winter season that he visited them. We also learn from the same source that the people who inhabit the adjoining forests, which are full of all kinds of elephants, wild beasts, and serpents, have the name of Canarii; from the circumstance that they partake of their food in common with the canine race, and share with it the entrails of wild beasts.
* Suetonius Paulinus:
Roman general. In AD 41 he became the first Roman to cross the Atlas mountains. Nineteen years later he was appointed Roman commander in Britain and was responsible for suppressing Boadicea’s revolt.
I therefore wonder:
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- Update -
I have since come across another, interesting, reference:
Torriani, an italian engineer sent to the Canaries around 1590 by the catholic king Fernando to study and improve the fortifications in the islands, claimed that the Canaries were indeed the islands of Bliss and that Madeira would also be amongst these if the portuguese did not hold them... Cheeky, indeed!
From the 5th book - Geography of Africa, the Middle East and Turkey:
Suetonius Paulinus, quem consulem vidimus, primus Romanorum ducum transgressus quoque Atlantem aliquot milium spatio, prodidit de excelsitate quidem eius quae ceteri, imas radices densis altisque repletas silvis incognito genere arborum, proceritatem spectabilem esse enodi nitore, frondes cupressi similes praeterquem gravitate odoris, tenui eas obduci lanugine, quibus addita arte posse quales e bombyce vestes confici. verticem altis etiam aestate operiri nivibus.
decumis se eo pervenisse castris et ultra ad fluvium, qui Ger vocatur,
per solitudines nigri pulveris, eminentibus interdum velut exustis cautibus,
loca inhabitabilia fervore, quamquam hiberno tempore, experto. qui proximos
inhabitent saltus, refertos elephantorum ferarumque et serpentium omni
genere, Canarios appellari, quippe victum eius animalis promiscuum iis
esse et dividua ferarum viscera.