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whole of this river the name of Ægyptus, while other writers again have
called it Triton[3531]. Every now and then its course is interrupted by
islands which intervene, and which only serve as so many incentives to
add to the impetuosity of its torrent; and though at last it is hemmed
in by mountains on either side, in no part is the tide more rapid and
precipitate. Its waters then hastening onwards, it is borne along to
the spot in the country of the Æthiopians which is known by the name of
“Catadupi[3532];” where, at the last Cataract[3533], the complaint is,
not that it flows, but that it rushes, with an immense noise between
the rocks that lie in its way: after which it becomes more smooth,
the violence of its waters is broken and subdued, and, wearied out as
it were by the length of the distance it has travelled, it discharges
itself, though by many mouths[3534], into the Egyptian sea. During
certain days of the year, however, the volume of its waters is greatly
increased, and as it traverses the whole of Egypt, it inundates the
earth, and, by so doing, greatly promotes its fertility.

There have been various reasons suggested for this increase of the
river. Of these, however, the most probable are, either that its
waters are driven back by the Etesian winds[3535], which are blowing
at this season of the year from an opposite direction, and that the
sea which lies beyond is driven into the mouths of the river; or else
that its waters are swollen by the summer rains of Æthiopia[3536],
which fall from the clouds conveyed thither by the Etesian winds from
other parts of the earth. Timæus the mathematician has alleged a reason
of an occult nature: he says that the source of the river is known
by the name of Phiala, and that the stream buries itself in channels
underground, where it sends forth vapours generated by the heat among
the steaming rocks amid which it conceals itself; but that, during the
days of the inundation, in consequence of the sun approaching nearer
to the earth, the waters are drawn forth by the influence of his heat,
and on being thus exposed to the air, overflow; after which, in order
that it may not be utterly dried up, the stream hides itself once more.
He says that this takes place at the rising of the Dog-Star, when the
sun enters the sign of Leo, and stands in a vertical position over the
source of the river, at which time at that spot there is no shadow
thrown. Most authors, however, are of opinion, on the contrary, that
the river flows in greater volume when the sun takes his departure for
the north, which he does when he enters the signs of Cancer and Leo,
because its waters then are not dried up to so great an extent; while
on the other hand, when he returns towards the south pole and re-enters
Capricorn, its waters are absorbed by the heat, and consequently flow
in less abundance. If there is any one inclined to be of opinion, with
Timæus, that the waters of the river may be drawn out of the earth by
the heat, it will be as well for him to bear in mind the fact, that the
absence of shadow is a phænomenon which lasts continuously[3537] in
these regions.

The Nile begins to increase at the next new moon after the summer
solstice, and rises slowly and gradually as the sun passes through the
sign of Cancer; it is at its greatest height while the sun is passing
through Leo, and it falls as slowly and gradually as it arose while he
is passing through the sign of Virgo. It has totally subsided between
its banks, as we learn from Herodotus, on the hundredth day, when
the sun has entered Libra. While it is rising it has been pronounced
criminal for kings or prefects even to sail upon its waters. The
measure of its increase is ascertained by means of wells[3538]. Its
most desirable height is sixteen cubits[3539]; if the waters do not
attain that height, the overflow is not universal; but if they exceed
that measure, by their slowness in receding they tend to retard the
process of cultivation. In the latter case the time for sowing is lost,
in consequence of the moisture of the soil; in the former, the ground
is so parched that the seed-time comes to no purpose. The country has
reason to make careful note of either extreme. When the water rises
to only twelve cubits, it experiences the horrors of famine; when
it attains thirteen, hunger is still the result; a rise of fourteen
cubits is productive of gladness; a rise of fifteen sets all anxieties
at rest; while an increase of sixteen is productive of unbounded
transports of joy. The greatest increase known, up to the present time,
is that of eighteen cubits, which took place in the time of the Emperor
Claudius; the smallest rise was that of five, in the year of the battle
of Pharsalia[3540], the river by this prodigy testifying its horror, as
it were, at the murder of Pompeius Magnus. When the waters have reached
their greatest height, the people open the embankments and admit them
to the lands. As each district is left by the waters, the business of
sowing commences. This is the only river in existence that emits no

The Nile first enters the Egyptian territory at Syene[3542], on
the frontiers of Æthiopia; that is the name of a peninsula a mile
in circumference, upon which Castra[3543] is situate, on the side
of Arabia. Opposite to it are the four islands of Philæ[3544], at a
distance of 600 miles from the place where the Nile divides into two
channels; at which spot, as we have already stated, the Delta, as
it is called, begins. This, at least, is the distance, according to
Artemidorus, who also informs us that there were in it 250 towns; Juba
says, however, that the distance between these places is 400 miles.
Aristocreon says that the distance from Elephantis to the sea is 750
miles; Elephantis[3545] being an inhabited island four miles below the
last Cataract, sixteen[3546] beyond Syene, 585 from Alexandria, and the
extreme limit of the navigation of Egypt. To such an extent as this
have the above-named authors[3547] been mistaken! This island is the
place of rendezvous for the vessels of the Æthiopians; they are made to
fold up[3548], and the people carry them on their shoulders whenever
they come to the Cataracts.


Egypt, besides its boast of extreme antiquity, asserts that it
contained, in the reign of King Amasis[3549], 20,000 inhabited
cities: in our day they are still very numerous, though no longer
of any particular note. Still however we find the following ones
mentioned as of great renown—the city of Apollo[3550]; next, that
of Leucothea[3551]; then Great Diospolis[3552], otherwise Thebes,
known to fame for its hundred gates; Coptos[3553], which from its
proximity to the Nile, forms its nearest emporium for the merchandise
of India and Arabia; then the town of Venus[3554], and then another
town of Jupiter[3555]. After this comes Tentyris[3556], below which
is Abydus[3557], the royal abode of Memnon, and famous for a temple
of Osiris[3558], which is situate in Libya[3559], at a distance from
the river of seven miles and a half. Next to it comes Ptolemais[3560],
then Panopolis[3561], and then another town of Venus[3562], and, on
the Libyan side, Lycon[3563], where the mountains form the boundary
of the province of Thebais. On passing these, we come to the towns of
Mercury[3564], Alabastron[3565], the town of Dogs[3566], and that of
Hercules already mentioned[3567]. We next come to Arsinoë[3568], and
Memphis[3569], which has been previously mentioned; between which last
and the Nome of Arsinoïtes, upon the Libyan side, are the towers known
as the Pyramids, the Labyrinth[3570] on Lake Mœris, in the construction
of which no wood was employed, and the town of Crialon[3571]. Besides
these, there is one place in the interior, on the confines of Arabia,
of great celebrity, the City of the Sun[3572].

(10.) With the greatest justice, however, we may lavish our praises
upon Alexandria, built by Alexander the Great on the shores of the
Egyptian Sea, upon the soil of Africa, at twelve miles’ distance
from the Canopic Mouth and near Lake Mareotis[3573]; the spot having
previously borne the name of Rhacotes. The plan of this city was
designed by the architect Dinochares[3574], who is memorable for the
genius which he displayed in many ways. Building the city upon a wide
space[3575] of ground fifteen miles in circumference, he formed it in
the circular shape of a Macedonian chlamys[3576], uneven at the edge,
giving it an angular projection on the right and left; while at the
same time he devoted one-fifth part of the site to the royal palace.

Lake Mareotis, which lies on the south side of the city, is connected
by a canal which joins it to the Canopic mouth, and serves for the
purposes of communication with the interior. It has also a great number
of islands, and is thirty miles across, and 150 in circumference,
according to Claudius Cæsar. Other writers say that it is forty schœni
in length, making the schœnum to be thirty stadia; hence, according to
them, it is 150 miles[3577] in length and the same in breadth.

There are also, in the latter part of the course of the Nile, many
towns of considerable celebrity, and more especially those which have
given their names to the mouths of the river—I do not mean, all the
mouths, for there are no less than twelve of them, as well as four
others, which the people call the False Mouths[3578]. I allude to the
seven more famous ones, the Canopic[3579] Mouth, next to Alexandria,
those of Bolbitine[3580], Sebennys[3581], Phatnis[3582], Mendes[3583],
Tanis[3584], and, last of all, Pelusium[3585]. Besides the above there
are the towns of Butos[3586], Pharbæthos[3587], Leontopolis[3588],
Athribis[3589], the town of Isis[3590], Busiris[3591], Cynopolis[3592],
Aphrodites[3593], Sais[3594], and Naucratis[3595], from which last some
writers call that the Naucratitic Mouth, which is by others called the
Heracleotic, and mention it instead[3596] of the Canopic Mouth, which
is the next to it.


Beyond the Pelusiac Mouth is Arabia[3597], which extends to the Red
Sea, and joins the Arabia known by the surname of Happy[3598], so
famous for its perfumes and its wealth. This[3599] is called Arabia of
the Catabanes[3600], the Esbonitæ[3601], and the Scenitæ[3602]; it is
remarkable for its sterility, except in the parts where it joins up to
Syria, and it has nothing remarkable in it except Mount Casius[3603].
The Arabian nations of the Canchlæi[3604] join these on the east, and,
on the south the Cedrei[3605], both of which peoples are adjoining
to the Nabatæi[3606]. The two gulfs of the Red Sea, where it borders
upon Egypt, are called the Heroöpolitic[3607] and the Ælanitic[3608].
Between the two towns of Ælana[3609] and Gaza[3610] upon our sea[3611],
there is a distance of 150 miles. Agrippa says that Arsinoë[3612], a
town on the Red Sea, is, by way of the desert, 125 miles from Pelusium.
How different the characteristics impressed by nature upon two places
separated by so small a distance!

CHAP. 13. (12.)—SYRIA.

Next to these countries Syria occupies the coast, once the greatest of
lands, and distinguished by many names; for the part which joins up to
Arabia was formerly called Palæstina, Judæa, Cœle[3613], and Phœnice.
The country in the interior was called Damascena, and that further
on and more to the south, Babylonia. The part that lies between the
Euphrates and the Tigris was called Mesopotamia, that beyond Taurus
Sophene, and that on this side of the same chain Comagene. Beyond
Armenia was the country of Adiabene, anciently called Assyria, and
at the part where it joins up to Cilicia, it was called Antiochia.
Its length, between Cilicia and Arabia[3614], is 470 miles, and its
breadth, from Seleucia Pieria[3615] to Zeugma[3616], a town on the
Euphrates, 175. Those who make a still more minute division of this
country will have it that Phœnice is surrounded by Syria, and that
first comes the maritime coast of Syria, part of which is Idumæa and
Judæa, after that Phœnice, and then Syria. The whole of the tract of
sea that lies in front of these shores is called the Phœnician Sea.
The Phœnician people enjoy the glory of having been the inventors of
letters[3617], and the first discoverers of the sciences of astronomy,
navigation, and the art of war.


On leaving Pelusium we come to the Camp of Chabrias[3618], Mount
Casius[3619], the temple of Jupiter Casius, and the tomb of Pompeius
Magnus. Ostracine[3620], at a distance of sixty-five miles from
Pelusium, is the frontier town of Arabia.

(13.) After this, at the point where the Sirbonian Lake[3621] becomes
visible, Idumæa and Palæstina begin. This lake, which some writers
have made to be 150 miles in circumference, Herodotus has placed at
the foot of Mount Casius; it is now an inconsiderable fen. The towns
are Rhinocolura[3622], and, in the interior, Rhaphea[3623], Gaza, and,
still more inland, Anthedon[3624]: there is also Mount Argaris[3625].
Proceeding along the coast we come to the region of Samaria;
Ascalo[3626], a free town, Azotus[3627], the two Jamniæ[3628], one
of them in the interior; and Joppe[3629], a city of the Phœnicians,
which existed, it is said, before the deluge of the earth. It is
situate on the slope of a hill, and in front of it lies a rock, upon
which they point out the vestiges of the chains by which Andromeda
was bound[3630]. Here the fabulous goddess Ceto[3631] is worshipped.
Next to this place comes Apollonia[3632], and then the Tower of
Strato[3633], otherwise Cæsarea, built by King Herod, but now the
Colony of Prima Flavia, established by the Emperor Vespasianus: this
place is the frontier town of Palæstina, at a distance of 188 miles
from the confines of Arabia; after which comes Phœnice[3634]. In the
interior of Samaria are the towns of Neapolis[3635], formerly called
Mamortha, Sebaste[3636], situate on a mountain, and, on a still more
lofty one, Gamala[3637].

CHAP. 15. (14.)—JUDÆA.

Beyond Idumæa and Samaria, Judæa extends far and wide. That part of it
which joins up to Syria[3638] is called Galilæa, while that which is
nearest to Arabia and Egypt bears the name of Peræa[3639]. This last is
thickly covered with rugged mountains, and is separated from the rest
of Judæa by the river Jordanes. The remaining part of Judæa is divided
into ten Toparchies, which we will mention in the following order:—That
of Hiericus[3640], covered with groves of palm-trees, and watered
by numerous springs, and those of Emmaüs[3641], Lydda[3642], Joppe,
Acrabatena[3643], Gophna[3644], Thamna[3645], Bethleptephene[3646],
Orina[3647], in which formerly stood Hierosolyma[3648], by far the most
famous city, not of Judæa only, but of the East, and Herodium[3649],
with a celebrated town of the same name.

(15.) The river Jordanes[3650] rises from the spring of Panias[3651],
which has given its surname to Cæsarea, of which we shall have
occasion to speak[3652]. This is a delightful stream, and, so far as
the situation of the localities will allow of, winds along[3653] in its
course and lingers among the dwellers upon its banks. With the greatest
reluctance, as it were, it moves onward towards Asphaltites[3654],
a lake of a gloomy and unpropitious nature, by which it is at last
swallowed up, and its bepraised waters are lost sight of on being
mingled with the pestilential streams of the lake. For this reason it
is that, as soon as ever the valleys through which it runs afford it
the opportunity, it discharges itself into a lake, by many writers
known as Genesara[3655], sixteen miles in length and six wide; which is
skirted by the pleasant towns of Julias[3656] and Hippo[3657] on the
east, of Tarichea[3658] on the south (a name which is by many persons
given to the lake itself), and of Tiberias[3659] on the west, the hot
springs[3660] of which are so conducive to the restoration of health.

(16.) Asphaltites[3661] produces nothing whatever except bitumen,
to which indeed it owes its name. The bodies of animals will not
sink[3662] in its waters, and even those of bulls and camels float
there. In length it exceeds 100 miles being at its greatest breadth
twenty-five, and at its smallest six. Arabia of the Nomades[3663] faces
it on the east, and Machærus on the south[3664], at one time, next to
Hierosolyma, the most strongly fortified place in Judæa. On the same
side lies Callirrhoë[3665], a warm spring, remarkable for its medicinal
qualities, and which, by its name, indicates the celebrity its waters
have gained.

(17.) Lying on the west of Asphaltites, and sufficiently distant to
escape its noxious exhalations, are the Esseni[3666], a people that
live apart from the world, and marvellous beyond all others throughout
the whole earth, for they have no women among them; to sexual desire
they are strangers; money they have none; the palm-trees are their only
companions. Day after day, however, their numbers are fully recruited
by multitudes of strangers that resort to them, driven thither to adopt
their usages by the tempests of fortune, and wearied with the miseries
of life. Thus it is, that through thousands of ages, incredible to
relate, this people eternally prolongs its existence, without a single
birth taking place there; so fruitful a source of population to it is
that weariness of life which is felt by others. Below this people was
formerly the town of Engadda[3667], second only to Hierosolyma in the
fertility of its soil and its groves of palm-trees; now, like it, it is
another heap of ashes. Next to it we come to Masada[3668], a fortress
on a rock, not far from Lake Asphaltites. Thus much concerning Judæa.

CHAP. 16. (18.)—DECAPOLIS.

On the side of Syria, joining up to Judæa, is the region of
Decapolis[3669], so called from the number of its cities; as to
which all writers are not agreed. Most of them, however, agree in
speaking of Damascus[3670] as one, a place fertilized by the river
Chrysorroös[3671], which is drawn off into its meadows and eagerly
imbibed; Philadelphia[3672], and Rhaphana[3673], all which cities
fall back towards Arabia; Scythopolis[3674] (formerly called Nysa by
Father Liber, from his nurse having been buried there), its present
name being derived from a Scythian colony which was established there;
Gadara[3675], before which the river Hieromix[3676] flows; Hippo, which
has been previously mentioned; Dion[3677], Pella[3678], rich with its
waters; Galasa[3679], and Canatha[3680]. The Tetrarchies[3681] lie
between and around these cities, equal, each of them, to a kingdom,
and occupying the same rank as so many kingdoms. Their names are,
Trachonitis[3682], Panias[3683], in which is Cæsarea, with the spring
previously mentioned[3684], Abila[3685], Arca[3686], Ampeloëssa[3687],
and Gabe[3688].

CHAP. 17. (19.)—PHŒNICE.

We must now return to the coast and to Phœnice. There was formerly a
town here known as Crocodilon; there is still a river[3689] of that
name: Dorum[3690] and Sycaminon[3691] are the names of cities of
which the remembrance only exists. We then come to the Promontory of
Carmelus[3692], and, upon the mountain, a town[3693] of that name,
formerly called Acbatana. Next to this are Getta[3694], Jeba, and the
river Pacida, or Belus[3695], which throws up on its narrow banks a
kind of sand from which glass[3696] is made: this river flows from
the marshes of Cendebia, at the foot of Mount Carmelus. Close to this
river is Ptolemais, formerly called Ace[3697], a colony of Claudius
Cæsar; and then the town of Ecdippa[3698], and the promontory known as
the White Promontory[3699]. We next come to the city of Tyre[3700],
formerly an island, separated from the mainland by a channel of the
sea, of great depth, 700 paces in width, but now joined to it by the
works which were thrown up by Alexander when besieging it,—the Tyre so
famous in ancient times for its offspring, the cities to which it gave
birth, Leptis, Utica, and Carthage[3701],—that rival of the Roman sway,
that thirsted so eagerly for the conquest of the whole earth; Gades,
too, which she founded beyond the limits of the world. At the present
day, all her fame is confined to the production of the murex and the
purple[3702]. Its circumference, including therein Palætyrus[3703],
is nineteen miles, the place itself extending twenty-two stadia. The
next towns are Sarepta[3704] and Ornithon[3705], and then Sidon[3706],
famous for its manufacture of glass, and the parent of Thebes[3707] in

(20.) In the rear of this spot begins the chain of Libanus, which
extends 1500 stadia, as far as Simyra; this district has the name
of Cœle Syria. Opposite to this chain, and separated from it by
an intervening valley, stretches away the range of Antilibanus,
which was formerly connected with Libanus[3708] by a wall. Beyond
it, and lying in the interior, is the region of Decapolis, and,
with it, the Tetrarchies already mentioned, and the whole expanse
of Palæstina. On the coast, again, and lying beneath Libanus, is
the river Magoras[3709], the colony of Berytus[3710], which bears
the name of Felix Julia, the town of Leontos[3711], the river
Lycos[3712], Palæbyblos[3713], the river Adonis[3714], and the
towns of Byblos[3715], Botrys[3716], Gigarta[3717], Trieris[3718],
Calamos[3719], Tripolis[3720], inhabited by the Tyrians, Sidonians,
and Aradians; Orthosia[3721], the river Eleutheros[3722], the towns of
Simyra and Marathos[3723]; and opposite, Arados[3724], a town seven
stadia long, on an island, distant 200 paces from the mainland. After
passing through the country in which the before-named mountains end and
the plains that lie between, Mount Bargylus[3725] is seen to rise.


Here Phœnicia ends, and Syria recommences. The towns are, Carne[3726],
Balanea[3727], Paltos[3728], and Gabale[3729]; then the promontory
upon which is situate the free town of Laodicea[3730]; and then
Diospolis[3731], Heraclea[3732], Charadrus[3733], and Posidium[3734].

(21.) We then come to the Promontory of Syria Antiochia. In the
interior is the free city of Antiochia[3735] itself, surnamed
Epidaphnes[3736], and divided by the river Orontes[3737]. On the
promontory is Seleucia[3738], called Pieria, a free city.

(22.) Beyond it lies Mount Casius[3739], a different one from the
mountain of the same name[3740] which we have already mentioned. The
height of this mountain is so vast, that, at the fourth watch[3741] of
the night, you can see from it, in the midst of the darkness, the sun
rising on the east; and thus, by merely turning round, we may at one
and the same time behold both day and night. The winding road which
leads to its summit is nineteen miles in length, its perpendicular
height four. Upon this coast there is the river Orontes, which takes
its rise near Heliopolis[3742], between the range of Libanus and
Antilibanus. The towns are, Rhosos[3743], and, behind it, the Gates
of Syria[3744], lying in the space between the chain of the Rhosian
mountains and that of Taurus. On the coast there is the town of
Myriandros[3745], and Mount Amanus[3746], upon which is the town of
Bomitæ[3747]. This mountain separates Cilicia from Syria.


We must now speak of the interior of Syria. Cœle Syria has the
town of Apamea[3748], divided by the river Marsyas from the
Tetrarchy of the Nazerini[3749]; Bambyx, the other name of which is
Hierapolis[3750], but by the Syrians called Mabog[3751], (here the
monster Atargatis[3752], called Derceto by the Greeks, is worshipped);
and the place called Chalcis[3753] on the Belus[3754], from which the
region of Chalcidene, the most fertile part of Syria, takes its name.
We here find also Cyrrhestice, with Cyrrhum[3755], the Gazatæ, the
Gindareni, the Gabeni, the two Tetrarchies called Granucomatæ[3756],
the Emeseni[3757], the Hylatæ[3758], the nation of the Ituræi, and a
branch of them, the people called the Bætarreni; the Mariamitani[3759],
the Tetrarchy known as Mammisea, Paradisus[3760], Pagræ[3761], the
Pinaritæ[3762], two cities called Seleucia, besides the one already
mentioned, the one Seleucia on the Euphrates[3763], and the other
Seleucia[3764] on the Belus, and the Cardytenses. The remaining part of
Syria (except those parts which will be spoken of in conjunction with
the Euphrates) contains the Arethusii[3765], the Berœenses[3766], and

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