Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

Articles

The locust problem in Cyprus

Ronald C. Jennings

The fifteenth-century Cypriot chronicler Leontios Machaeras, whose Recital concerning the sweet land of Cyprus concludes in 1432, first mentions locusts thus: ‘And in 1351 the locust, with God's blessing, began to come to Cyprus (and did great damage).’ Strange as it may seem, this may have been the first visit of locusts to the island in numbers sufficient to be destructive. Soon other local chroniclers, as well as travellers, pilgrims, and merchants, joined Machaeras in recording such invasions. They may have been no surprise to the Cypriot chronicler, writing a little under a century later, but in 1351 they could well have been the cause of surprise, even terror, on the island.