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Bill Thayer
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Book IV, Chapter 5

Embracing all of Marmarica, Libya, and Egypt
(from the Third Map of Libya)

Thayer's Note: Stevenson's "translation" of Ptolemy, to which this page belongs, is abysmally bad. It should not be used for any serious purpose. For details and correctives, see my Ptolemy homepage.

General Note on the Text:

The text of this chapter was subjected in the 1932 edition to a particularly poor rendering, in which Greek, Latin and English grammar all went by the board, as well as punctuation, capitalization and consistency in translation, and with them all vestiges of common sense.

To be fair, the technical difficulties of translation involved in the Geography are nowhere more evident than here. The words that appear here as placenames mix loose appellations like "sandy area" with medievally filtered Latin versions of Greek translations of original Egyptian placenames, and it is often very hard to decide past which level not to translate.

The 1932 editor, however, seems not to have made any real effort. I've therefore had to massage the more glaring defects out of the text:

• reducing inconsistent forms (Busiriticum river and Busiriticus river both appear because the cases were different in a Latin text; the nome appears in the Greek adjectival form Busirites — all of these rendered by me simply as Busiris; Thebarum nome — genitive of Thebae, the town we speak of in English as Thebes — rendered by me as the nome of Thebes; etc.)

• miscellaneous other fixes (e.g., "tribe" makes a brief appearance to be ditched by the editor in favor of the more habitual "nome".)

I've tried to keep my own emendations to a minimum, though, removing only modern errors, not medieval or Roman-period transmutations. (Much like restoring a 13c fresco but keeping the 16c graffiti on it.) Where I was in doubt, I left the text as I have it, although you may see an occasional footnote.

Some oddities of the Latin, usually where it translates the Greek, are quite interesting and I've been forced to side with the 1932 editor; for example, where modern scholarly usage uses Greek forms such as Cynopolis, the Latin left in the modern edition reads Canum city; I've refrained from translating this to City of Dogs although I've added the Greek name in [brackets]. This leads to some curious results, e.g. Antinoi city, which are neither English nor Greek, but not really Latin either. (For your convenience, however, the map will follow modern usage.)

Marmarica with Libya and Egypt is terminated on the west by Cyrenaica along that line which as is known runs from the town of Darnis southward, and by the part of Interior Libya along that meridian,

to the end, the position of which is 51*15 23°00

on the north by the Egyptian sea. This seacoast is thus described:

In the provinces of Marmarica are:

Azilis village 51*40 31°15
Greater Chersonesus 52*00 31°40
Phthia harbor 52*10 31°15
Paliurus 52*15 31°15
Batrachus harbor 52*30 31°15
Petras Minor harbor 52*45 31°15
Antipyrgos harbor 53*20 31°15
Scythranius harbor 53*30 31°10
Cathaeonium promontory 53*45 31°15
Ardanis promontory 54*00 31°15
Petras Major harbor 54*10 31°10

In the Libyan provinces on the seacoast:

Panormus harbor 54*20 31°10
Catabathmus Major 54*30 31°15
Aenesiphyra harbor 55*00 31°10
Zygris village 55*15 31°10
Chettaea village 55*30 31°10
Zagylis village 55*45 31°10
Selenis harbor 56*00 31°10
Trisarchi village 56*20 31°05
Apis 56*40 31°05
Paraetonium 57*00 31°10
Pythis promontory 57*10 31°10
Graeae Genu, harbor 57*10 31°05
Callias promontory 57*30 31°10
Zygis harbor 57*40 31°05
Leuce shore 57*50 31°10
Hermaeum promontory 58*00 31°15
Phoenicus harbor 58*20 31°10
Antiphra village 58*40 31°05
Derris promontory 58*50 31°10
Leucaspis harbor 59*00 31°05
Glaucum promontory 59*10 31°10

On the seacoast of Mareota province:

Chimo village 59*30 31°05
Plinthine 59*45 31°00
Lesser Chersonesus harbor 60*00 31°05
Alexandria the metropolis of all Egypt 60*30 31°00
Canobus the metropolis of Menelaitae 60*45 31°05

The seven mouths of the Nile:

the Heracleotic or Canobic mouth 60*50 31°05
the Bolbitine mouth 61*15 31°05
the Sebennytic mouth 61*30 31°05
the Pineptimi false mouth 61*45 31°05
Diolcus false mouth 62*10 31°10
the Pathmitic mouth 62*30 31°10
the Mendesius mouth 62*45 31°10
the Tanitic mouth 63*00 31°15
the Pelusiac mouth 63*15 31°10
Pelusium city 63*15 31°10
Gerrum terminus 63*30 31°10


Casium 63*45 31°15
Outlet of the Sirbonian swamps 63*50 31°15
Ostracine 64*15 31°10
Rhinocorura 64*40 31°50

It is terminated on the east by a part of Judaea which runs from the city Anthedon to

the terminus which is in 64*15 30°40

and then by Arabia Petraea as far as the recess in the Arabian bay near

the city Heroum [Heroöpolis] which is located in 63*30 29°50

and by a part of the Arabian bay. The coast is thus described:

Next to the turn of the bay which we have said is located in 63*30 29°50
Arsinoë 63*20 28°50
Clysina castle 63*20 28°50
Drepanum promontory 64*00 27°50
Philotera harbor 64*05 27°50
Myoshormus 64*15 26°45
Aeas mountains 64*20 26°10
Albus harbor 64*30 26°00
Acabe mountains 64*30 25°45
Nechesia 64*30 25°30
Samaragdus mountains 64*50 25°00
Lepte acra 64*40 23°40 a
Berenice 64*05 23°50
Pentadactylus mountains 64*45 23°30
Bazium promontory 65*00 23°00

The boundary on the south extends to the indicated terminus of Interior Libya adjacent to which line is Aethiopia below Egypt.

The Basisci mountains run thru this province,

the middle of which is in 52*20 30°00
also the Aganombri mountains 54*00 27°30
the Asyphus mountains 55*00 30°30
the Aspis mountains 57*30 30°40
the Ogdamus mountains 58*00 29°30
the Thinodes mountains 58*30 26°40
the Azar mountains, the extreme parts of which are in 51*30 23°30
and 53*00 23°30

and the mountains of Libya to the west of the Nile river,

the extreme parts of which are in 61*00 29°00
and 60*10 23°30

The lakes are:

Cleartus lake 52*00 26°20
Lacci lake 55*30 26°40
Lycomedis lake 57*00 24°00
Solis spring 58*15 28°00
Marea lake 60*15 30°50
Moeris lake 60*20 29°20
Sirbonis lake 64*15 31°00

The Libyarchae, the Aniritae, and the Bassachitae dwell in the north of Marmarica province, below whom are the Apotomitae; and next to these, but more toward the south,

are the Augilae, who are located in 52*30 28°00

after these are the Nasamones and the Bacatae; then the Auschitae and the Tapanitae, and next are the Sentites, the Oebillae and the Aezari.

In the Libyan province, which is near the sea, dwell the Zygritae, the Chattani and the Zygenses; toward the south are the Buzenses and the Ogdaemi, next to these the Adyrmachidae and next is

the region of Ammon, which is located in 55*30 28°00

Next are the Anagombri, the Iobacchi, and the Ruaditae.

The maritime region of Mareota province is called Taenia; in the interior dwell the Goniatae and the Prosoditae, next is

the Sciathic region which is located in 60*40 30°20

The Mastitae, the Nitriotae, and the Oasitae occupy the parts toward the south

which are located in 59*30 29°30

Next to these are Libyaegypti. The Arenosa and the Sitibunda regions extend along the entire south side of Marmarica and Libya. The Arabaegypti Ichthyophagi occupy the entire seacoast along the Arabian bay in which are mountain ridges:

Troicus-stone mountains 62*40 29°15
the Alabastrites mountains 63*00 28°00
the Porphyrites mountains 63*00 26°40
the black stone mountains 63*00 24°40
the Basanites stone mountains 64*00 23°30

The interior villages of Marmarica are:

Leucoe 51*20 30°45
Moccheris 52*20 31°00
Albi Camini 53*10 30°50
Menelaus 53*40 31°00
Gaphara 54*00 30°25
Masuchis 53*30 30°40
Masadalis 51*20 30°30
Abathuba 51*30 30°00
Albi Clivi 52*30 30°15
Tacaphoris 53*50 30°10
Dioscurorum 52*30 28°50
Migo 53*30 28°30
Saragina 53*15 28°00
Alo 53*15 28°30
Mazacila 54*20 26°30
Billa 54*30 25°40

and in Augilae and Nasamones:

Augila 52*30 28°00
Magri place 54*20 27°50

The villages of the Libyan provinces are:

Tachorsa 54*30 30°50
Azicis 55*00 31°00
Nemesium 55*30 30°50
Tisarchi 55*50 30°50
Philonis 55*50 30°30
Sophanis 56*30 30°50
Bibliaphorium 56*20 30°40
Scope 56*40 30°30
Calliae 57*00 30°50
Leodamantium 57*30 31°00
Catabathmus Minor 58*00 30°50
Pedonia 58*20 31°00
Pnigeus 58*30 30°30
Glaucum 59*00 30°30
Tuccitora 55*10 30°15
Thanuthis 55*40 29°45
Pednopum 57*15 29°40
Climax 57*40 30°10
Siropum 56*20 28°45
Mareotis 58*00 28°20

and in the region of Ammon:

Alexandri Castra 56*30 28°10
and the town Ammon 55*30 28°00

The town and villages of Mareota province are:

Monocaminum 59*10 30°50
Halmyrae 59*40 30°50
Taposiris 59*50 30°50
Cobii 59*10 30°30
Antiphili 59*30 30°20
Hierax 59*40 30°40
Phamotis 60*00 30°40
Marea vetus, village 60*00 30°10

and in the Sciathic land:

Sciathica 60*40 30°20

Near Lake Moeris are:

Bacchis 60*30 29°40
Dionysias 60*30 29°00

and in Oasitae are:

Oasis Minor 60*15 28°45
Oasis Major 59*30 26°55

The provinces which are along the Nile have important towns.

That is called the Great Delta which begins where, from the Great river, the Agathodaemon is diverted and flows thru the Heracleotic mouth; the one called the Bubastis river flows thru the Pelusiac mouth,

and the branching where the delta is formed is located in 62*00 30°00

It is called the Little Delta where the Busiris river branches from the Bubastis river, which flows thru the Pathmitic mouth.

This Little Delta is located in 62*40 30°20

A third delta can also be mentioned located between that which we generally call the Middle Delta where a river branches from the Bubastis, which flows thru the town Athribis and the Pineptimi mouth.

This third delta is located in 62*15 30°05

In the Great Delta two rivers are diverted toward the north from the river Agathodaemon, one of which is called the Therenuthis river, which flows thru the Sebennytic mouth;

its branching is located in 61*30 30°15

The Buticus river [Butus river] which runs along at a nearly equal distance from the seacoast joins the Therenuthis, the Athribis, the Busiris and the Bubastis, from which others springing from adjacent marshes and lakes flow into the sea thru the remaining mouths, some of which are connected, as we have said, with the Great river.

That is commonly called a low region around these rivers, in which are provinces and important cities.

In the nome and metropolis of Alexandria:

Hermopolis Parva 61*00 30°50

In the nome and metropolis of Andropolis:

Andron city 61*20 30°20

In the nome and metropolis of Letopolis:

interior Latona city [Letopolis] 61*30 30°05

Between the Great river and the river Taly (from the Great river toward the east)

Metelis nome and metropolis:

Metelis 61*00 31°00

Between the Great river and the Therenuthis river are the towns:

Phthenetu nome and metropolis:

Butus 61*20 30°45

Cabasa nome and metropolis:

Cabasa 61*30 30°40

Sais nome and metropolis:

Sais 61*30 30°30

and on the Great river toward the east:

Naucratis town 61*15 30°30

Prosopis nome and metropolis on the east bank of the Great river:

Niciae 61*30 30°20

Between the Therenuthis and the Athribis rivers are:

Sebennytes nome in a low region and its metropolis:

Pachnamunis 61*40 31°00

Xois nome and metropolis:

Xois 61*40 30°35

Phthemphuthi nome and metropolis:

Tava 61*40 30°25

Between the Athribis and the Busiris rivers:

Onuphis nome and its metropolis:

Onuphis 62*05 30°40

Athribis nome and its metropolis:

Athribis 62*00 30°30

Mendesius nome and its metropolis:

Thumuis 62*20 30°50

Upper Sebennytic nome and its metropolis:

Sebennytus 62*20 30°20

Busiris nome and its metropolis:

Busiris 62*30 30°15

Leontopolis nome and its metropolis:

Leontopolis 62*15 30°35

Between the Busiris river and the Bubastis river is:

Nesyt nome and its metropolis:

Panephysis 62*40 31°05

Tanis nome and metropolis:

Tanis 62*45 32°50

Pharbaethus nome and metropolis:

Pharbaethus 62*45 32°30

To the east of the Bubastis river is Sethroites nome and metropolis:

Herculis lesser city 63*20 31°00

Arabia nome and metropolis:

Phacusa 63*10 30°50

Bubastis nome and metropolis:

Bubastus b 63*05 30°40

Heliapolis c nome and metropolis:

Oniu 62*30 30°10

and on the border of Arabia and Aphroditopolis:

Babylon 62*15 30°00
Heliopolis 62*30 29°50
Heroum city [Heroöpolis] 63*10 30°00

thru which, as well as thru the city Babylon, flows the mountain stream Traianus.

The following nomes are toward the south from the Great Delta and the Lower region and are called the Seven Nomes, the first is the nome of Memphis and its metropolis on the east bank of the river:

Memphis 61*50 29°50

And then to the east of the river in the interior, the town

Acanthon 61*40 29°40

In which part the river separates,

forming an island, called Heracleopolis island 62*00 29°45
and in this island Nilopolis 62*00 29°30
and the metropolis to the west of the river is Herculis city [Heracleopolis] 61*50 29°10

The nome of Arsinoë and its metropolis in the interior:

Arsinoë 61*40 29°30
and the naval station Ptolemais 61*40 29°20

To the east of this island:

Aphroditopolis nome and its metropolis, called Aphroditopolis 62*15 29°40
then also to the east of the island, Ancuron city 62*20 29°20
The rivers unite which form an island in 62*00 28°45

Next, to the west of the river is the nome of Oxyrynchus and the metropolis in the interior:

Oxyrynchus 61*40 28°50

Then the nome of Cynopolis and the metropolis on the east river bank:

Co 61*50 28°40
Canum city [Cynopolis] 62*10 28°40
then on the east bank of the river is Acoris 62*00 28°30
in the interior, Alabastron 62*30 28°20

The nome and metropolis of Hermopolis to the west of the river inland is:

Hermopolis the great 61*40 28°25
and next on the west bank of the river is Phylacae 61*50 28°15

The nome toward the east of the Antinoüs river and its metropolis:

Antinoi city [Antinoöpolis] 62*05 28°10

to which nome are to be added the two Oasitae.

Those which are toward the south from the Seven Nomes are called the Thebaid and the Upper Region. Then toward the west of the river are the nome of Lycopolis and its metropolis in the interior:

Lycopolis 61*45 28°00

the nome of Hypsele and its metropolis:

Hypsele 62*00 27°50

the nome of Aphroditopolis and its metropolis in the interior are:

Aphroditopolis 61*20 27°40
Crocodilorum city [Crocodilopolis] 61*40 27°20

the Thinites nome and its metropolis:

Ptolemais Hermiae 61*50 27°10

then inland toward the west from the river:

Abydos 61*40 26°50

The nome of Diopolis of the upper region and its metropolis:

Jovis a small town [Diopolis] 61*50 26°40

the nome of Tentyra and its metropolis:

Tentyra 61*50 26°10
and a village in the interior, Pampanis 61*30 25°45

Here is Memnon and in the interior

the village Pathyris 61*30 25°30

The nome of Hermonthis and its metropolis:

Hermonthis 61*50 25°20
and then Laton town 61*45 25°00
the larger Apollinopolis city 61*50 24°40
then the inland village Phonthis 61*40 24°20
and the island Elephantine 61*30 23°55

Toward the east of the river:

the nome of Antaeopolis and its metropolis:

Antaei in the interior 62*20 27°40
and next Passalus 62*10 27°30

the nome of Panopolis and its metropolis:

Panopolis 62*00 27°20
next, Lepidotorum town 62*00 26°50
then Chenoboscia 62*00 26°30
next, Caene town 62*10 26°20

The nome of Coptos and its metropolis:

Coptos town 62*30 26°00
next, the smaller Apollinopolis city 62*30 25°55

The nome of Thebes and its metropolis:

the greater Jovis town [Diopolis] 62*00 25°30
then Tuphium 62*00 25°20
then Chnubis 62*00 25°00
then Ilithyiae town 62*05 24°45
then Toum inland 62*15 24°20
then Ombi 62*00 24°05
then Syene 62*00 23°50

then the Dodecaschoenus, from which toward the east are the Arabes Adaei; among whom on the east bank of the river

after the Lesser Cataract, which is located in 61*50 23°45
are Hiera Sycaminos 61*45 23°40
Philae 61*40 23°20
Metacompso 61*40 23°05
in which region on the west bank of the river is Pselcis 61*30 23°05

The islands near Libya and Egypt in the Egyptian sea are:

Aedonis island 52*40 31°50
Tyndarii three cliffs 55*50 31°30
Aenesippa island 56*30 31°40
Phocussae, two islands 56*50 31°30
Pedonia island 58*30 31°30
Didymae, two islands 60*00 31°30
Pharos island 60*20 31°05

In the Arabian bay are these islands:

Sapphirine island 64*50 28°00
Veneris island 65*15 25°00
Agathonis island 65*15 23°40

Thayer's Notes:

a My edition has this, without explanation:

It is presumably an emended lacuna in the degrees of latitude column of the original text.

b Bubastus in my edition; should be Bubastis, but it is just possible the variant spelling is Ptolemy's rather than a modern typo.

c Heliapolis is almost certainly a modern error for Heliopolis.

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Page updated: 31 Jan 10