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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Geography


published in Vol. VIII
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,

The text is in the public domain.

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and I believe it to be free of errors.
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(Vol. VIII) Strabo

 p3  Book XVII

1 (785) Since, in my description of Arabia, I have also included the gulfs which pinch it and make it a peninsula, I mean the Persian and Arabian Gulfs, and at the same time have gone the rounds of certain parts both of Aegypt and of Aethiopia, I mean the countries of the Troglodytes and the peoples situated in order thereafter as far as the Cinnamon-bearing country, I must now set forth the remaining parts that are continuous with these tribes, that is, the parts in the neighbourhood of the Nile; and after this I shall traverse Libya, which is the last remaining subject of my whole geography. And here too I must first set forth the declarations of Eratosthenes.

2 Now according to him the Nile is nine hundred or a thousand stadia distant towards the west from the Arabian Gulf, and is similar in shape to the letter N written reversed;1 786 for after flowing, he says, from Meroê towards the north about two thousand seven hundred stadia, it turns back towards the south and the winter sunset about three thousand  p5 seven hundred stadia, and after almost reaching the same parallel as that of the region of Meroê and projecting far into Libya and making the second turn, flows towards the north five thousand three hundred stadia to the great cataract, turning aside slightly towards the east, and then one thousand two hundred stadia to the smaller cataract at Syenê, and then five thousand three hundred more to the sea. Two rivers empty into it, which flow from some lakes on the east and enclose Meroê, a rather large island. One of these rivers, which flows on the eastern side of the island, is called Astaboras2 and the other is called Astapus,3 though some call it Astasobas and say that another river, which flows from some lakes in the south,4 is the Astapus and that this river forms almost all the straight part of the body of the Nile, and that it is filled by the summer rains. Above the confluence of the Astaboras and the Nile, he says, at a distance of seven hundred stadia, lies Meroê, a city bearing the same name as the island; and there is another island above Meroê which is held by the Aegyptian fugitives who revolted in the time of Psammitichus, and are called "Sembritae," meaning "foreigners."5 They are ruled by a queen, but they are subject to the kings of Meroê.6 The lower parts of the country on either side of Meroê, along the Nile towards the  p7 Red Sea, are inhabited by Megabari and Blemmyes, who are subject to the Aethiopians and border on the Aegyptians, and, along the sea, by Troglodytes (the Troglodytes opposite Meroê are a ten or twelve days' journey distant from the Nile), but the parts on the left side of the course of the Nile, in Libya, are inhabited by Nubae, a large tribe, who, beginning at Meroê, extend as far as the bends of the river, and are not subject to the Aethiopians but are divided into several separate kingdoms. The extent of Aegypt along the sea from the Pelusiac to the Canobic mouth is one thousand three hundred stadia. This, then, is what Eratosthenes says.

3 But it is necessary to speak at greater length, and first of the parts about Aegypt, in order to proceed from those that are better known to those that come in order thereafter; for the Nile effects certain common results in this country and in that which is continuous with it and lies above it, I mean the country of the Aethiopians, in that it waters them at the time of its rise and also leaves also those parts of them habitable which have been covered during the overflows, and in that it merely passes through all the higher parts that are at a greater altitude than its current, leaving them uninhabited and desert on both sides because of the same lack of water. 787 However, the Nile does not pass through the whole of Aethiopia, nor alone, nor in a straight line, but it alone passes through Aegypt, through the whole of it and in a straight line, beginning from the little cataract above Syenê and Elephantinê, which are the boundaries of Aegypt and Aethiopia, to its outlets on the sea-coast. And  p9 indeed the Aethiopians lead for the most part a nomadic and resourceless life, on account of the barrenness of the country and of the unseasonableness of its climate and of its remoteness from us, whereas with the Aegyptians the contrary is the case in all these respects; for from the outset they have led a civic and cultivated life and have been settled in well-known regions, so that their organisations are a matter of comment. And they are commended in that they are thought to have used worthily the good fortune of their country, having divided it well and having taken good care of it; for when they had appointed a king they divided the people into three classes, and they called one class soldiers, another farmers, and another priests; and the last class had the care of things sacred and the other two of things relating to man; and some had charge of the affairs of war, and others of all the affairs of peace, both tilling soil and following trades, from which sources the revenues were gathered for the king. The priests devoted themselves both to philosophy and to astronomy; and they were companions of the king. The country was first divided into Nomes,7 the Thebaïs containing ten, the country in the Delta ten, and the country between them sixteen (according to some, the number of the Nomes all told was the same as that of the halls in the Labyrinth, but the number of these is less than thirty);8 and again the Nomes were divided into other sections, for most of them were divided into  p11 toparchies, and these also into other sections; and the smaller portions were the arourae.9 There was need of this accurate and minute division on account of the continuous confusion of the boundaries caused by the Nile at the time of its increases, since the Nile takes away and adds soil, and changes conformations of lands, and in general hides from view the signs by which one's own land is distinguished from that of another. Of necessity, therefore, the lands must be re-measured again and again. And here it was, they say, that the science of geometry10 originated, just as accounting and arithmetic originated with the Phoenicians, because of their commerce.11 Like the people as a whole, the people in each Nome were also divided into three parts, since the land had been divided into three equal parts. The activity of people in connection with the river goes so far as to conquer nature through diligence. For by nature the land produces 788 more fruit than do other lands, and still more when watered; but diligence has oftentimes, when nature has failed, availed to bring about the watering of as much land even at the time of the smaller rises of the river as at the greater rises, that is, through the means of canals and embankments. At any rate, in the times before Petronius12 the crop was the largest and the rise the highest when the Nile would rise to fourteen cubits, and when it would rise to only eight a famine would ensue; but in the time of his reign over the  p13 country, and when the Nilometer registered only twelve cubits, the crop was the largest, and once, when it registered only eight cubits, no one felt hunger. Such is the organisation of Aegypt; but let me now describe the things that come next in order.

4 The Nile flows from the Aethiopian boundaries towards the north in a straight line to the district called "Delta," and then, being "split at the head," as Plato says,13 the Nile makes this place as it were the vertex of a triangle, the sides of the triangle being formed by the streams that split in either direction and extend to the sea — the one on the right to the sea at Pelusium and the other on the left to the sea at Canobus and the neighbouring Heracleium, as it is called, — and the base by the coast-line between Pelusium and the Heracleium. An island, therefore, has been formed by the sea and the two streams of the river; and it is called Delta on account of the similarity of its shape; and the district at the vertex has been given the same name because it is the beginning of the above-mentioned figure; and the village there is also called Delta. Now these are two mouths of the Nile, of which one is called Pelusiac and the other Canobic or Heracleiotic; but between these there are five other outlets, those at least that are worth mentioning, and several that are smaller; for, beginning with the first parts of the Delta, many branches of the river have been split off throughout the whole island and have formed many streams and islands, so that the whole Delta has become navigable — canals on canals having been cut, which are  p15 navigated with such ease that some people even use earthenware ferry-boats.14 Now the island as a whole is as much as three thousand stadia in perimeter; and they also call it, together with the opposite river-lands of the Delta, Lower Egypt;15 but at the rising of the Nile the whole country is under water and becomes a lake, except the settlements; and these are situated on natural hills or on artificial mounds, 789 and contain cities of considerable size and villages, which, when viewed from afar, resemble islands. The water stays more than forty days in summer and then goes down gradually just as it rose; and in sixty days the plain is completely bared and begins to dry out; and the sooner the drying takes place, the sooner the ploughing and the sowing; and the drying takes place sooner in those parts where the heat is greater. The parts above the Delta are also watered in the same way, except that the river flows in a straight course about four thousand stadia through only one channel, except where some island intervenes, of which the most noteworthy is that which comprises the Heracleiotic Nome, or except where the river is diverted to a greater extent than usual by a canal into a large lake or a territory which it can water, as, for instance, in the case of the canal which waters the Arsinoïte Nome and Lake Moeris16 and of those which spread over Lake Mareotis.17 In short, Aegypt consists of only the river-land, I mean the last stretch of river-land  p17 on either side of the Nile, which, beginning at the boundaries of Aethiopia and extending to the vertex of the Delta, scarcely anywhere occupies a continuous habitable space as broad as three hundred stadia. Accordingly, when it is dried, it resembles lengthwise a girdle-band,18 the greater diversions of the river being excepted. This shape of the river-land of which I am speaking, as also of the country, is caused by the mountains on either side, which extend from the region of Syenê down to the Aegyptian Sea; for in proportion as these mountains lie together or at a distance from one another, in that proportion the river is contracted or widened, and gives to the lands that are habitable their different shapes. But the country beyond the mountains is for a great distance uninhabited.19

5 Now the ancients depended mostly on conjecture, but the men of later times, having become eyewitnesses, perceived that the Nile was filled by summer rains, when Upper Aethiopia was flooded, and particularly in the region of its farthermost mountains, and that when the rains ceased the inundation gradually ceased. This fact was particularly clear to those who navigated the Arabian Gulf as far as the Cinnamon-bearing country, and to those who were sent out to hunt elephants20 or upon any other business which may have prompted the Ptolemaic kings of Aegypt to despatch men thither. For these kings were concerned with things of this kind; and especially the Ptolemy surnamed Philadelphus, since he was of an  p19 inquiring disposition, and on account of the infirmity of his body was always searching for novel pastimes and enjoyments. But the kings of old were not at all concerned with such things, 790 although they proved themselves congenial to learning, both they and the priests, with whom they spent the greater part of their lives; and therefore we may well be surprised, not only on this account, but also by the fact that Sesostris traversed the whole of Aethiopia as far as the Cinnamon-bearing country, and that memorials of his expedition, pillars and inscriptions, are to be seen even to this day. Further, when Cambyses took possession of Aegypt, he advanced with the Aegyptians even as far as Meroê; and indeed this name was given by him to both the island and the city, it is said, because his sister Meroê — some say his wife21 — died there. The name, at any rate, he bestowed upon the place in honour of the woman. It is surprising, therefore, that the men of that time, having such knowledge to begin with, did not possess a perfectly clear knowledge of the rains, especially since the priests rather meticulously record in their sacred books, and thus store away, all facts that reveal any curious information; for they should have investigated, for they made any investigations at all, the question, which even to this day is still being investigated, I mean why in the world rains fall in summer but not in winter, and in the southernmost parts but not in Thebaïs and the country round Syenê;22 but the fact that the rising of the river results from rains should not have been investigated, nor yet should this matter have needed such witnesses as Poseidonius mentions; for instance, he says that it was Callisthenes who states that the summer rains  p21 are the cause of the risings, though Callisthenes took the assertion from Aristotle, and Aristotle from Thrasyalces the Thasian (one of the early physicists), and Thrasyalces from someone else, and he from Homer, who calls the Nile "heaven-fed": "And back again to the land of Aegyptus, heaven-fed river."

But I dismiss this subject, since it has been discussed by many writers, of whom it will suffice to report only the two who in my time have written the book about the Nile, I mean Eudorus and Ariston the Peripatetic philosopher; for except in the matter of arrangement everything found in the two writers is the same as regards both style and treatment. I, at any rate, being in want of copies23 with which to make a comparison, compared the one work with the other;24 but which of the two men it was who appropriated to himself the other's work might be discovered at Ammon's temple! Eudorus accused Ariston; the style, however, is more like that of Ariston.

Now the early writers gave the name Aegypt to only the part of the country that was inhabited and watered by the Nile, beginning at the region of Syenê and extending to the sea; but the later writers down to the present time have added on the eastern side approximately all the parts between the Arabian Gulf and the Nile 791 (the Aethiopians do not use the Red Sea at all),25 and on the western side the parts  p23 extending as far as the oases, and on the sea-coast the parts extending from the Canobic mouth to Catabathmus and the domain of the Cyrenaeans. For the kings after Ptolemy26 became so powerful that they took possession of Cyrenaea itself and even united Cypros with Aegypt. The Romans, who succeeded the Ptolemies, separated their three dominions and have kept Aegypt within its former limits.27 The Aegyptians call "oases"28 the inhabited districts which are surrounded by large deserts, like islands in the open sea. There is many an oasis in Libya, and three of them lie close to Aegypt and are classed as subject to it. This, then, is my general, or summary, account of Aegypt, and I shall now discuss the separate parts and the excellent attributes of the country.

6 Since Alexandria29 and its neighbourhood constitute the largest and most important part of this subject, I shall begin with them. The sea-coast, then, from Pelusium, as one sails towards the west, as far as the Canobic mouth, is about one thousand three hundred stadia — the "base" of the Delta, as I have called it;30 and thence to the island Pharos, one hundred and fifty stadia more. Pharos is an oblong isle, is very close to the mainland, and forms with it a harbour with two mouths;  p25 the shore of the mainland forms a bay, since it thrusts two promontories into the open sea, and between these is situated the island, which closes the bay, for it lies lengthwise parallel to the shore. Of the extremities of Pharos, the eastern one lies closer to the mainland and to the promontory opposite it (the promontory called Lochias), and thus makes the harbour narrow at the mouth; and in addition to the narrowness of the intervening passage there are also rocks, some under the water, and others projecting out of it, which at all hours roughen the waves that strike them from the open sea. And likewise the extremity of the isle is a rock, which is washed all round by the sea and has upon it a tower that is admirably constructed of white marble with many stories and bears the same name as the island.31 This was an offering made by Sostratus of Cnidus, a friend of the kings, for the safety of mariners, as the inscription says:32 for since the coast was harbourless and low on either side, and also had reefs and shallows, those who were sailing from the open sea thither needed some lofty and  p27 conspicuous sign 792 to enable them to direct their course aright to the entrance of the harbour. And the western mouth is also not easy to enter, although it does not require so much caution as the other. And it likewise forms a second harbour, that of Eunostus,33 as it is called, which lies in front of the closed harbour which was dug by the hand of man.34 For the harbour which affords the entrance on the side of the above-mentioned tower of Pharos is the Great Harbour, whereas these two lie continuous with that harbour in their innermost recess, being separated from it only by the embankment called the Heptastadium.35 The embankment forms a bridge extending from the mainland to the western portion of the island, and leaves open only two passages into the harbour of Eunostus, which are bridged over. However, this work formed not only a bridge to the island but also an aqueduct, at least when Pharos was inhabited. But in these present times it has been laid waste by the deified Caesar36 in his war against the Alexandrians, since it had sided with the kings. A few seamen, however, live near the tower. As for the Great Harbour, in addition to its being beautifully enclosed both by the embankment and by nature, it is not only so deep close to the shore that the largest ship can be moored at the steps, but also is cut up into several harbours. Now the earlier kings of the  p29 Aegyptians, being content with what they had and not wanting foreign imports at all, and being prejudiced against all who sailed the seas, and particularly against the Greeks (for owing to scarcity of land of their own the Greeks were ravagers and coveters of that of others), set a guard over this region and ordered it to keep away any who should approach; and they gave them as a place of abode Rhacotis, as it is called, which is now that part of the city of the Alexandrians which lies above the ship-houses, but was at that time a village; and they gave over the parts round about the village to herdsmen, who likewise were able to prevent the approach of outsiders. But when Alexander visited the place and saw the advantages of the site, he resolved to fortify the city on the harbour. Writers record, as a sign of the good fortune that has since attended the city, an incident which occurred at the time of tracing the lines of the foundation: When the architects were marking the lines of the enclosure with chalk,37 the supply of chalk gave out; and when the king arrived, his stewards furnished a part of the barley-meal which had been prepared for the workmen, and by means of this the streets also, to a larger number than before, were laid out. This occurrence, then, they are said to have interpreted as a good omen.38

7 The advantages of the city's site are various; for, first, the place is washed by two seas, 793 on the  p31 north by the Aegyptian Sea, as it is called, and on the south by Lake Mareia, also called Mareotis. This is filled by many canals from the Nile, both from above and on the sides, and through these canals the imports are much larger than those from the sea, so that the harbour on the lake was in fact richer than that on the sea; and here the exports from Alexandria also are larger than the imports; and anyone might judge, if he were at either Alexandria or Dicaearchia39 and saw the merchant vessels both at their arrival and at their departure, how much heavier or lighter they sailed thither or therefrom. And in addition to the great value of the things brought down from both directions, both into the harbour on the sea and into that on the lake, the salubrity of the air is also worthy of remark. And this likewise results from the fact that the land is washed by water on both sides and because of the timeliness of the Nile's risings; for the other cities that are situated on lakes have heavy and stifling air in the heats of summer, because the lakes then become marshy along their edges because of the evaporation caused by the sun's rays, and, accordingly, when so much filth-laden moisture rises, the air inhaled is noisome and starts pestilential diseases, whereas at Alexandria, at the beginning of summer, the Nile, being full, fills the lake also, and leaves no marshy matter to corrupt the rising vapours. At that time, also, the Etesian winds blow from the north and from a vast sea,40 so that the Alexandrians pass their time most pleasantly in summer.

 p33  8 The shape of the area of the city is like a chlamys;41 the long sides of it are those that are washed by the two waters, having a diameter42 of about thirty stadia, and the short sides are the isthmuses, each being seven or eight stadia wide and pinched in on one side by the sea and on the other by the lake.43 The city as a whole is intersected by streets practicable for horse-riding and chariot-driving, and by two that are very broad, extending to more than a plethrum in breadth, which cut one another into two sections and at right angles.44 And the city contains most beautiful public precincts and also the royal palaces, which constitute one-fourth or even one-third of the whole circuit of the city; for just as each of the kings, from love of splendour, was wont to add some adornment to the public monuments, so also he would invest himself at his own expense with a residence, in addition to those  p35 already built, so that now, to quote the words of the poet,45 "there is building upon building." All, however, are connected with one another and the harbour, even those that lie outside46 the harbour. The Museum is also a part of the royal palaces; it has a public walk, an Exedra with seats, 794 and a large house,47 in which is the common mess-hall of the men of learning who share the Museum. This group of men not only hold property in common, but also have a priest in charge of the Museum, who formerly was appointed by the kings, but is now appointed by Caesar. The Sema also,48 as it is called, is a part of the royal palaces. This was the enclosure which contained the burial-places of the kings and that of Alexander; for Ptolemy,49 the son of Lagus, forestalled Perdiccas by taking the body away from him when he was bringing it down from Babylon and was turning aside towards Aegypt, moved by greed and a desire to make that country his own.50 Furthermore,  p37 Perdiccas lost his life, having been slain by his soldiers at the time when Ptolemy attacked him and hemmed him up in a desert island.51 So Perdiccas was killed, having been transfixed by his soldiers' sarissae52 when they attacked him; but the kings who were with him, both Aridaeus53 and the children of Alexander, and also Rhoxanê, Alexander's wife, departed for Macedonia; and the body of Alexander was carried off by Ptolemy and given sepulture in Alexandria, where it still now lies — not, however, in the same sarcophagus as before, for the present one is made of glass,54 whereas the one wherein Ptolemy laid it was made of gold. The latter was plundered by the Ptolemy nicknamed "Cocces"55 and "Pareisactus,"56 who came over from Syria but was immediately57 expelled, so that his plunder proved unprofitable to him.

9 In the Great Harbour at the entrance, on the right hand, are the island and the tower Pharos, and on the other hand are the reefs and also the  p39 promontory Lochias, with a royal palace upon it; and on sailing into the harbour one comes, on the left, to the inner royal palaces, which are continuous with those on Lochias and have groves and numerous lodges painted in various colours. Below these lies the harbour that was dug by the hand of man and is hidden from view,58 the private property of the kings, as also Antirrhodos, an isle lying off the artificial harbour, which has both a royal palace and a small harbour. They so called it as being a rival of Rhodes. Above the artificial harbour lies the theatre; then the Poseidium — an elbow, as it were, projecting from the Emporium, as it is called, and containing a temple of Poseidon. To this elbow of land Antony added a mole projecting still farther, into the middle of a harbour, and on the extremity of it built a royal lodge which he called Timonium. This was his last act, when, forsaken by his friends, he sailed away to Alexandria after his misfortune at Actium,59 having chosen to live the life of a Timon60 the end of his days, which he intended to spend in solitude from all those friends.61 Then one comes to the Caesarium and the Emporium and the warehouses; and after these to the ship-houses, which extend as far as the Heptastadium. So much for the Great Harbour and its surroundings.

10 Next, after the Heptastadium, one comes to the Harbour of Eunostus, 795 and, above this, to the artificial harbour, which is also called Cibotus; it too has ship-houses. Farther in there is a navigable  p41 canal, which extends to Lake Mareotis. Now outside the canal there is still left only a small part of the city; and then one comes to the suburb Necropolis, in which are many gardens and groves and halting-places fitted up for the embalming of corpses, and, inside the canal, both to the Sarapium and to other sacred precincts of ancient times, which are now almost abandoned on account of the construction of the new buildings at Nicopolis; for instance, there are an amphitheatre and a stadium at Nicopolis, and the quinquennial games are celebrated there;62 but the ancient buildings have fallen into neglect. In short, the city is full of public and sacred structures; but the most beautiful is the Gymnasium, which has porticoes more than a stadium in length. And in the middle63 are both the court of justice and the groves. Here, too, is the Paneium,64 a "height," as it were, which was made by the hand of man; it has the shape of a fir-cone, resembles a rocky hill, and is ascended by a spiral road; and from the summit one can see the whole of the city lying below it on all sides. The broad street that runs lengthwise65 extends from Necropolis past the Gymnasium to the Canobic Gate; and then one comes to the Hippodrome, as it is called, and to the other (streets?)66 that lie parallel, extending as far as the Canobic  p43 canal. Having passed through the Hippodrome, one comes to Nicopolis, which has a settlement on the sea no smaller than a city. It is thirty67 stadia distant from Alexandria. Augustus Caesar honoured this place because it was here that he conquered in battle those who came out against him with Antony; and when he had taken the city at the first onset, he forced Antony to put himself to death and Cleopatra to come into his power alive; but a little later she too put herself to death secretly, while in prison, by the bite of an asp or (for two accounts are given) by applying a poisonous ointment;68 and the result was that the empire of the sons of Lagus, which had endured for many years, was dissolved.

The Editor's Notes:

1 i.e. 𐐥. This is true, roughly speaking, of the course of the Nile from Meroê to Syenê (see critical note).

The critical note to the Greek text (τῷ γράμματι τῷ Ν κειμένῳ ἀνάπαλιν) reads:

τῷ νυ EFDr, though D has Ν above νυ.

2 Now Atbara or Takazze.

3 Now Bahr el‑Abiad.

4 Now Bahr el‑Asrek.

5 See 16.4.8. According to Herodotus (2.30), the original number of these fugitives was 240,000 (see Rawlinson's note, Vol. II, p37).

6 This statement is inconsistent with that in 16.4.8, which, however, appears to have been taken from Artemidorus.

7 The Greek word (Νομοί) here means Districts or Provinces. Pliny (5.9) refers to them as praefecturae oppidorum.

8 Meineke and others unnecessarily emend the text to read "thirty-six" (see critical note).

The critical note to the Greek text (αὗται δ’ ἐλάττους τῶν τριάκοντα) reads:

τριάκοντα, Meineke, following conj. of Groskurd, emends to τριάκοντα ἕξ.

9 By "arourae" Strabo refers to the Aegyptian land-measure, which was 100 Aegyptian cubits square (Herodotus 2.168), i.e. about seven-elevenths of our acre. Each soldier was granted the free use of twelve arourae of land without taxation (Herodotus 2.168).

10 Literally, "land-measuring."

11 See 16.2.24.

12 C. Petronius (see 17.1.54).

13 Timaeus 21E.

14 Cp. Juvenal 15.126.

15 Cp. 1.2.23 and 16.2.35.

16 See Herodotus 2.149 and Breasted's A History of Egypt, pp191‑94.

17 Now Lake Mariout.

18 But the text seems corrupt (see critical note). Strabo must have written, "accordingly, it resembles length-wise an unwound girdle-band," or else, "Accordingly, it resembles a hand outstretched to full length," meaning both arm and hand, and thus referring to the Delta as well as to the stretch of river-land from Aethiopia to the vertex.

The critical note to the Greek text (ἔοικεν οὖν κειρίᾳ ψυχομένη ἐπὶ μῆκος) reads:

ψυχομένη, Corais (who conj. τεταμένη, however), for ψυχομένῃ; ἀναπτυσσομένῃ or ἀναπτυγμένῃ conj. Kramer.

19 See 1.2.25.

20 See 16.4.7.

21 Diodorus Siculus (1.33) says his mother.

22 So 15.1.19.

23 Literally "antigraphs"; i.e., apparently, "copies" of parallel passages from the two works.

24 In the Alexandrian library, apparently.

25 The other translators interpret πάνυ as meaning "much," or "to such an extent," or the like. But Strabo is speaking of Aethiopians in the strict sense of the term; for "the country between the Nile and Arabian Gulf is Arabia" (17.1.21), and even Aegyptian Heliupolis (17.1.30) and Thebes (17.1.46) are in "Arabia."

26 Ptolemy I (Soter), reigned 323‑285 B.C.

27 The Romans made Cyrenaea an "allied state" (civitas foederata) in 96 B.C., a Roman province in 88 B.C., and later (see 17.3.25) united it with Crete. Cypros was annexed to the province of Cilicia in 47 B.C., presented by Antony to Cleopatra in 32 B.C., made an imperial province in 27 B.C., and a senatorial province in 22 B.C.

28 The Greek spelling is "auases."

29 See Map of Alexandria at end of volume.

30 17.1.4.

31 This tower, one of the "Wonders of the World," cost 800 talents (Pliny 36.18).º According to Eusebius (Chron. ad Olymp. 124.1), it was built in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus, but, according to Suidas, at the beginning of the reign of Pyrrhus (299 B.C.), i.e. in the time of Ptolemy Soter. According to Josephus (Bell. Jud. 4.10.5, or L. C. L. edition, Vol. III, pp181 and 251), it was visible from the sea at 300 stadia; according to Epiphanes (Steph. Byz., s.v. Φάρος), it was 306 fathoms high; and the Schol. Lucian ad Icaromenippum, § 12, says that it was visible 300 miles away! See A. M. de Zogheb, Études sur L'Ancienne Alexandrie, Paris, 1910; and Thiersch's restoration of the tower in Rostovtzeff's A History of the Ancient World, vol. I, p369.

32 Some of the MSS. (see critical note) record the inscription, which is preserved in Lucian, How to Write History, § 62 (but is obviously a gloss in Strabo): "Sostratus of Cnidus, son of Dexiphanes, on behalf of mariners, to the Divine Saviours." "The Divine Saviours" might refer to Ptolemy Soter and Berenicê (see the Corais-Letronne edition, which cites Spannheim, De Praestantia et Usu Numismat. I, p415, and Visconti, Iconographie Grecque II, 18, p564), but it was the Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux) who were known by "all" as "guardians of the sea" and "the saviours of sailors" (1.3.2 and 5.3.5).

The critical note to the Greek text (ὥς φησιν ἡ ἐπιγραφή) reads:

After ἐπιγραφή C, in the margin, adds: Ἐπίγραμμα. Σώστρατος Κνίδιος Δεξιφάνους θεοῖς ὑπὲρ τῶν πλωϊζονμένων· The same words are found in Dhirw, and also, with Ἐπίγραμμα omitted, in moxz.

33 i.e. "Harbour of the happy return." This harbour might have been so named after Eunostus, king of Soli in Cypros and son-in‑law of Ptolemy Soter (C. Wachsmuth, Göttinger Festrede, 1876, 4), the idea being inspired, perhaps, by the fact that Eunostus was so good a harbour as compared with the eastern.

34 This harbour (called "Cibotus," i.e. "Chest" or "Box"), which was fortified, was connected with Lake Mareotis by a canal. Its shape and size are to‑day problematical, for it has been filled up and its site lies within that of the present Heptastadium.

35 So called from its being "Seven Stadia" in length. It has been so much enlarged by alluvial deposits and debris from the old city that it is now, generally speaking, a mile wide, and forms a large part of the site of the city of to‑day.

36 Julius Caesar.

37 Literally, "white earth."

38 According to Plutarch (Alexander 26), birds of all kinds settled on the place like clouds and ate up all the barley-meal with which the area had been marked out, so that Alexander was greatly disturbed at the omen; but the seers assured him that the omen was good. The barley-meal betokened an abundance of food (Ammianus Marcellinus 22.16.7).

39 Now Puteoli.

40 The Aegyptian monsoons, here called the "Etesian" (i.e. "Annual") winds, blow from the north-west all summer.

41 According to Plutarch (4.26),º the shape was like that of a Macedonian chlamys, or military cloak; and the plan was designed by "Diochares" (probably an error for "Deinocrates"). Likewise, "the inhabited world is chlamys-shaped" (see Vol. I, p435 and footnote 3). See Tarbell, Classical Philology, I, p285,º for a discussion of this passage as bearing on the shape of the chlamys.

42 Strabo is thinking apparently of a line drawn from the centre of the skirt of the chlamys, which was circular, to the centre of the collar.

43 According to Philo (In Flaccum 973A) the city was divided into five sections, which were designed as Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon. Beta apparently comprised the palaces, including the Museum, the Sema and many other buildings; Delta, the Jewish quarter (Josephus, Bell. Jud. 2.8); but the sites of the three others are doubtful. On the dimensions of the city, cp. Josephus, Bell. Jud. 2.16.4 (30 × 10 stadia); Philo, In Flaccum 757 (10 stadia in breadth); Stephanus Byzantinus, s.v. Ἀλεξάνδρεια (34 × 8, and 110 in circuit); Pliny 5.10 (15 miles in circuit); and Diodorus Siculus 17.52 (40 stadia in breadth), who obviously means by "breadth" what others call "length," and seems to include suburban districts on east and west.

44 The main longitudinal street ran straight through from the "Canobic Gate," or "Gate of the Sun," on the east to the "Gate of the Moon" on the west. Its site has been identified in part with that of the present Rosetta Street (see A. M. de Zogheb,º Études sur L'Ancienne Alexandrie, p11); but Dr. Botti (cited by Zogheb)º takes a different view. "The most important of the latitudinal streets was that of the Sema, which had on its right the tomb of Alexander the Great, and, on its left, very probably the museum. Then it crossed the Canobic avenue, passed the Adrianum and Caesareum on the right, the temple of Isis-Plousia and the Emporium on the left, and ends on the quay of the great maritime port and the place of embarkation, near the two obelisks" (Neroutsos-Bey, quoted by Zogheb,º p15). See Map at end of volume.

45 Odyssey, 17.266 (concerning the palace of Odysseus).

46 i.e. on the promontory called Lochias (see § 9 following).

47 Cp. the structure described by Vitruvius, De Architectura (5.11.2): "Spacious exedras within three porticoes with seats, where philosophers, rhetoricians and all others who take delight in studies can engage in disputation." Suidas (s.v. ἐξέδρα) seems to make the Exedra a building distinct from the Museum: "They live near the Museum and the Exedra."

48 i.e. "Tomb." However, the MSS. (see critical note) read Soma, i.e. "Body." And so does the Greek version of the Pseudo-Callisthenes (C. Müller, Didot Edition, Scriptores Rerum Alexandri Magni III, 3.34): "And Ptolemy made a tomb in the holy place called 'Body of Alexander,' and there he laid the body, or remains, of Alexander"; but the Syrian version (Alexander the Great, trans. by E. A. W. Budge, p142) reads: "and they call that place 'The tomb of Alexander' unto this day." But more important is the statement of Zenobius (Proverbia III.94): "Ptolemy (Philopator) built in the middle of the city a mnema (μνῆμα οἰκοδομήσας), which is now called the Sema, and he laid there all his forefathers together with his mother, and also Alexander the Macedonian."

The critical note to the Greek text (τὸ καλούμενον Σῆμα) reads:

Σῆμα, Tzschucke, for Σῶμα; so later editors.

49 Ptolemy Soter.

50 The accounts vary. According to Diodorus Siculus (18.26‑28), Arrhidaeus spent two years making elaborate preparations for the removal of Alexander's body; and Ptolemy I went as far as Syria to meet him, and thence took the body to Aegypt for burial. Pausanias (1.6.3, 1.7.1) says that Ptolemy I buried it at Memphis and Ptolemy II transferred it to Alexandria. The Pseudo-Callisthenes (l.c.) says that the Macedonians were at first determined to take the body back to Macedonia, but later, upon consulting the oracle of the Babylonian Zeus, all agreed that "Philip Ptolemy" (surely an error for "Philip Arrhidaeus," the immediate successor of Alexander, or for "Ptolemy I") should take it from Babylon to Aegypt and bury it at Memphis; and that he took the body to Memphis, but, by order of the chief priest of the temple there, immediately took it to Alexandria. There, according to Diodorus Siculus (l.c.), Ptolemy devised a sacred precinct (τέμενος), which in size and construction was worthy of Alexander's glory. When Augustus was in Alexandria, he saw the body, having had the coffin and body brought forth from its shrine, penetrali (Suetonius, Augustus 18); and "he not only saw the body, but touched it, whereupon, it is said, a piece of nose broke off" (Dio Cassius 51.16).

51 Perdiccas first attacked Ptolemy on the Pelusiac branch of the Nile "not far from a fortress called 'Camel's Wall,' " where he was unsuccessful; and then later near Memphis, where his soldiers mutinied (Diodorus Siculus 18.33 ff.).

52 Long Macedonian pikes.

53 Also spelled Arrhidaeus.

54 Or, possibly, "alabaster." Cp. the so‑called "Sarcophagus of Alexander" found at Sidon and now at the Ottoman Museum in Constantinople.

Thayer's Note: See also Diodorus II.15.1‑4 and the note there.

55 i.e. "scarlet."

Thayer's Note: This may give you an unwarranted sense of security, gentle reader, and if you are attentive, it will mystify you as well: why scarlet? The truth and its curious approaches are much better surrounded by Chris Bennett in his footnote on Cleopatra Coccê.

56 Literally, "Pareisactus" means "one who has been brought in (i.e. upon the throne) privily," i.e. "usurper." But scholars take the word to mean "Illegitimate" (i.e. "Pretender") in this passage and identify this Ptolemy with Ptolemy XI (so Tozer, Selections, p350).

57 This must mean "immediately" after his violation of the tomb, for Ptolemy XI mounted the throne in 80 B.C. and, so far as is known, he was never expelled till 58 B.C.

58 Cp. § 6 above.

59 31 B.C.

60 Timon the Athenian was nicknamed the "Misanthrope." Antony, like Timon, felt that he himself also had been wronged and treated with ingratitude, and therefore hated all men (Plutarch, Antony 69).

61 He slew himself in 30 B.C.

62 Cp. the Nicopolis near Actium, and its sacred precinct, and its quinquennial games (7.7.6 and footnote 1).

63 Of the city, not the gymnasium.

64 Sanctuary of Pan.

65 See § 8 above.

66 Both the text and the interpretation are doubtful. ὁδοί ("streets") is not found in the MSS.; but, although it is the natural word to supply, just as ὁδός must be supplied above with πλατεῖα ("broad"), it hardly suits the context, as Kramer, who conjectures κατοικίαι ("settlements"), insists. Vogel (see critical note) simply emends ἄλλαι ("other") to ἅλαιº ("salt-works").

The critical note to the Greek text (αἱ παρακείμεναι ἄλλαι) reads:

D (?) and the editors before Kramer add αἱ before ἄλλαι. Kramer conj. that κατοικίαι, or some word of similar meaning, has fallen out after ἄλλαι. Meineke conj. καλιαί ("wooden dwellings"), Vogel ἅλαι ("salt-works"), for ἄλλαι.

67 Josephus (Bell. Jud. 4.11.5) says "they."

68 Cp. Plutarch, Antony 86.

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