(a bull's hide). So the citadel of Carthage was called. The tale is that when Dido came to Africa she bought of the natives “as much land as could be encompassed by a bull's hide.” The agreement was made, and Dido cut the hide into thongs, so as to enclose a space sufficient for a citadel.
The following is a similar story: The Yakutsks granted to the Russian explorers as much land as they could encompass with a cow's hide; but the Russians, cutting the hide into strips, obtained land enough for the port and town of Yakutsk.
The Indians have a somewhat similar tradition. The fifth incarnation of Vishnu was in the form of a dwarf called Vamen. Vamen, presenting himself before the giant Baly, asked as a reward for services as much land as he could measure in three paces to build a hut on. Baly laughed at the request, and freely granted it. Whereupon the dwarf grew so prodigiously large that, with three paces, he strode over the whole world.
(Sonnerat: Voyages, vol. i. p. 24.)
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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