translated by Shlomo Felberbaum

Egyptian statuettes
photographs by Shane Solow

Text and photographs Copyright © 1999—2003 Lost Trails
all rights reserved

Installment 9

After Cyrus had met with his end, Cambyses inherited the kingdom, who was the son of Cyrus and Cassandane, the daughter of Pharnaspes, for whom, since she had died first, Cyrus himself had sorrowed greatly and had commanded all the others over whom he ruled to sorrow. Of that very woman and Cyrus being the son, Cambyses considered the Ionians and Aeolians that they were his father’s slaves and so drove his army against Egypt while he took along others whom he ruled and especially those of the Greeks of whom he was master.

The Egyptians, before Psammetichus became king of them, considered themselves to be the first born of all human beings. But, when Psammetichus had become king and wished to know who were the first born, from that time they considered the Phrygians to be earlier born than themselves and themselves than all the others. Now, Psammetichus, when he could not in trying to learn by inquiry find out any way of knowing that, who were the first born of human beings, devised a plan like this: he gave two newly born young children of the first human beings he had met with to a shepherd to bring up amid the flocks of sheep with an upbringing like this: he enjoined that no one should utter any sound, but in a desolate chamber they should be put alone by themselves and at the right time he should bring goats to them and, after filling up on milk, they should accomplish everything else. That Psammetichus did and enjoined, since he wished to hear from the young children, once their unintelligible whimperings were gotten rid of, what would be the first utterance they would let out. That very desire then was actually fulfilled. For, after two years’ time had passed for the shepherd who was doing the aforementioned, as he opened the door and went in, the young children fell before him and said “bekos” while they reached out their hands. At the first then, after he had heard, the shepherd was silent and, when for him who resorted there often and had a care, that word was prevalent, just then he indicated it to his master and brought the young children at his bidding into his sight. On hearing, Psammetichus himself inquired who of human beings called anything “bekos” and inquiring found the Phrygians called wheat bread that. Thus the Egyptians agreed by forming an estimate by a matter just like that the Phrygians were older than they. That in this way happened I heard from the priests of Hephaestus in Memphis, but the Greeks say many other foolish things and that Psammetichus had the tongues of women cut out and thus had the young children live among those women.

Regarding the upbringing of the young children, then, they said so much and I heard other things as well in Memphis when I came into speeches with the priests of Hephaestus and, in particular, I turned my steps to Thebes and to the City of the Sun for that very reason, since I wished to know whether they would agree with the speeches in Memphis; for the inhabitants of the City of the Sun are said to be the Egyptians’ greatest spokesmen. Now, the kinds of relations of the gods’ matters that I heard, I am not eager to fully describe except the names only, since I consider men to know equally about them, but whichever of them I mention, utterly compelled by my account I will mention.

As to all that are human affairs, however, they said as follows in agreement with themselves: the Egyptians were the first of all human beings to discover the year’s duration, in that they made a division of twelve parts in the seasons that come to it. That they discovered from the stars they said further. So they have a wiser observation than the Greeks, as it seems to me, in so far as the Greeks every other year intercalate an intercalary month for the seasons’ sake, whereas the Egyptians observe twelve months of thirty days and add annually five days besides that number and so for them the seasons’ cycle in its going round arrives back at the same point. The twelve gods’ names, they said, the Egyptians were the first to use customarily and the Greeks took them up from them; altars, images and temples they were the first to portion out to gods as well as to carve figures on stones. Now, the greater number of those things by deed they made clear originated thus and then they said that Min was the first human being to become king of Egypt; that in his time, except for the Theban district, all Egypt was marsh and none of it was projecting of what is now below lake Moiris, to which there is seven days’ sailing up the river from the sea.

And they seemed to me to speak well concerning their country. For it’s quite clear to anyone, even if he has not heard before, but sees, at least who has intelligence, that the Egypt to which the Greeks voyage is a land acquired lately by the Egyptians and a gift of the river and further there’s the upper parts of that lake during three days’ sailing, about which they said nothing further like this, but which is also like that. For the land of Egypt’s nature is like this: first sailing forth still and being a day’s course distant from land, if you let down sounding line, you will bring up mud and be in eleven fathoms. That makes clear the land’s alluvium is over so great an extent.

Egypt itself’s length along the sea is sixty ropes, according as we determine Egypt to be from the Plinthinetes gulf up to lake Serbonis, along which Mount Casium stretches; starting from that point then are the sixty ropes. (All of the human beings who are poor in land, have measured the country in fathoms; all who are less poor in land, in stades; they who have much land, in parasangs; and those who have very abundant, in ropes. The parasang equals thirty stades and each rope, being an Egyptian measure, sixty stades. Thus the measurement of Egypt along the sea would be three thousand six hundred stades.)

From there up to the City of the Sun into the inland country Egypt, being flat, well-watered and slime, is broad, and the road to the City of the Sun from the sea for one going inland is pretty near in its length to the road from Athens that leads from the twelve gods’ altar into Pisa and to Olympian Zeus’ temple. Someone would find the difference between those roads a small one, should he compute it, their not being equal in length not more than fifteen stades; for the one to Pisa from Athens wants fifteen stades from being fifteen hundred and the one to the City of the Sun from the sea fills up that number.

However, from the City of the Sun for one going inland Egypt is narrow. For, where in Arabia a mountain extends that lies from the Bear to the south and its wind and continually stretches inland to the so-called Red sea, on which are the stone -quarries made by cutting for the pyramids in Memphis, there the mountain ends and bends back to the places that have been mentioned and, where it itself is its longest, as I learned by inquiry, it is two months’ journey from east to west and the places that produce frankincense to the east are its limits. Now, that mountain is like that and the other stone mountain toward Libya of Egypt extends, on which are the pyramids and which is wrapped up in sand and stretched out in the same direction as the parts of the Arabian that lie toward the south. Then indeed the place from the City of the Sun is large no farther, considering that it is Egypt’s, but is about fourteen days’ sailing upstream, since it is Egypt at its narrow part. Between the said mountains there’s level land and its stades seemed to me to be, where it is narrowest, not more than two hundred from the Arabian mountain to the so-called Libyan. Thereafter Egypt is broad again.

Now, that country is thus by nature and from the City of the Sun to Thebes is nine days’ sailing upstream and the journey’s stades are four thousand eight hundred and sixty, the ropes being eighty one. As to those stades of Egypt, when they are put together, the part along the sea by now it has been made clear by me earlier that it is three thousand six hundred stades and how large a distance is from the sea to the inland up to Thebes, I will indicate: its stades are six thousand one hundred and twenty. And the distance from Thebes to the so-called city of Elephantina is a thousand eight hundred stades.

antique map of EgyptThe greater part of that said country, just as the priests said, seemed to myself as well acquired lately by the Egyptians. For between the said mountains that are situated over the city of Memphis it appeared to me there was once a gulf of sea, exactly like that round Ilium, Teuthrania, Ephesos and Maeander’s plain, at least so far as it is possible to compare those places, small as they are, to great, because of the rivers that formed those places alluvially to one of the mouths of the Nile, which is five-mouthed, no one of them concerning volume is worth comparing. There are also other rivers, although they are not like the Nile in size, that did show forth great actions, whose names I can point out, both others and not least the Achelous, which, flowing through Acarnania and discharging into the sea, has by now made half of the Echinadian islands mainland.

There is in the country of Arabia, not far from Egypt, a gulf of sea that stretches from the so-called Red somewhat so very long and narrow as I am going to point out; in length of sailing for one beginning from its most inland part to sail through to the broad sea forty days are used up, if one rows, and in breadth, where the gulf is broadest, half a day’s sailing. In it flow and ebb every day are produced. I think Egypt too proves another gulf like that surely; the one stretches from its north sea toward Ethiopia and the other lies from its south toward Syria; near to each other they bore through their most inland parts and diverge a little from the country. If then the Nile will divert its stream into that Arabian Gulf, what prevents it, as that river keeps flowing, from being silted up, at least within twenty thousand years? For I for my part at least suppose even within ten thousand it could be silted up. Just how then in the time used up previously before I was born could the gulf not be silted up even far larger than that by so great and so active a river?

The matters concerning Egypt then—I both am persuaded by those who speak of them and by myself very much think they are thus, since I see Egypt is situated before the neighboring land, sea-shells come to light on top of its mountains, a salt incrustation forms on their surface so as to harm even the pyramids, the mountain over Memphis is the only in Egypt to have sand and, in addition, Egypt neither is similar to the country of Arabia that is bordering nor that of Libya, and not indeed even to that of Syria (for the Syrians inhabit the places along the sea in Arabia), but black-soiled and friable, seeing that it is slime and alluvium carried down from Ethiopia by the river, whereas we know Libya is a redder land and beneath rather sandy, and Arabia and Syria are rather clayey and beneath stony.

And the priests said also the following to me as a great proof concerning that country, that in King Moiris’ time, whenever the river went up eight cubits at the least, it watered Egypt below Memphis, and it was not yet nine hundred years from Moiris’ meeting with his end, when I heard that from the priests. But now, if the river ascends not sixteen or fifteen cubits at the least, it goes not over into the country. Consequently those of the Egyptians below the lake of Moiris settled in all the other places and the so-called Delta seem to me, if thus that country proportionally increases in height and gives forth the like in growth, the Nile not washing over it, that they will suffer all the time that remains, although Egyptians, what they themselves asserted the Greeks sometime would suffer. For, having learned by inquiry that the whole of the Greeks’ land is rained on, but not watered by rivers just as their own, they asserted the Greeks, mistaken sometime in their great hope, would hunger badly, and that saying means to state that, if the gods will wish not to rain for them, but to afflict them with drought, the Greeks will be taken off by famine, since indeed no other means of getting water exists for them except from Zeus alone.

And although the existence of that condition with regard to the Greeks by the Egyptians has been spoken of correctly, yet, come, let me now point out for the Egyptians themselves also how it is. If for them, as I spoke of previously, the land below Memphis, since it is that which is growing, proportionally as in time gone by in height should grow, what will those of the Egyptians settled there suffer other than hunger, at least if neither their country will not be rained on nor the river be able to go over into the fields? For indeed truly now at least they obtain fruit most untoilsomely, more so than all the other human beings and the remaining Egyptians, they who have toils without breaking up furrows by ploughs or hoeing or having any other of those tasks in which all the other human beings toil concerning standing crop, but, whenever for them the river of its own goes up and waters the fields and, after watering, falls back, then each sows his own field and sends into it sows and, whenever he has the seed trampled down by the sows, the harvest from then on he awaits and, after having the grain threshed by the sows, he then conveys it home.

Now, if we want to observe the Ionians’ judgements in respect to the matters concerning Egypt, who assert the Delta alone is Egypt, as they say it is in its part along the sea from the so-called watchtower of Perseus up to the Pelousian Taricheians, and it’s there where its ropes are forty, and in its part from the sea inland they say it stretches up to the city of Cercasorus, at which the Nile is split in its flowing to Pelousium and to Canobus, while they say of all the other parts of Egypt some are Libya’s and some Arabia’s, we would show forth, should we observe that theory, that no land was the Egyptians’ before. Well now their Delta at any rate, as the Egyptians say themselves and it seems to me, is alluvial and recently, to exaggerate in speaking, come to light. If then no country belonged to them, why were they superfluously laboring in thinking they had been first born of human beings? Nor had they to go to make trial of the young children regarding what tongue they would utter first. Rather I think both the Egyptians came not into being together with what’s called the Delta by the Ionians and they have existed on each and every occasion since the race of human beings came into being and, as the country advanced, many of them came to be left behind and many gradually moved down. Egypt, however, anciently was called Thebes, whose circumference is six thousand one hundred and twenty stades.

If then we for our part have judged correctly about it, the Ionians think not well about Egypt but, if the Ionians’ judgement is correct, I can show forth the Greeks and the Ionians themselves know not how to count, who say the whole earth is three parts, Europe, Asia and Libya, since indeed as a fourth they must additionally count Egypt’s Delta, if it is neither in Asia nor Libya, because indeed the Nile at any rate is according to that theory of theirs the border separating Asia from Libya. At that Delta’s point the Nile is broken round so that it would prove in the space between Asia and Libya.

And so we let go the Ionians’ judgement and we on our own speak about that matter above in somewhat the following manner: all that is settled by the Egyptians is Egypt, just as what’s settled by the Cilicians is Cilicia and what by the Assyrians Assyria, and the border of Asia and Libya we know is nothing by a correct account if not the boundaries of the Egyptians, but, if we will observe what it’s considered by the Greeks, we will consider all Egypt, beginning from the Cataracts and the city of Elephantina, to be divided in two and partake of both the names, because some parts of it are in Libya and some in Asia. For indeed the Nile, being from the Cataracts, splits the middle of Egypt and flows to the sea. Now, up to the city of Cercasorus the Nile flows and is one, but from that city on splits into three ways. One turns to the east, which is called the Pelousian mouth, the second of the ways extends to the west and that is named the Canobian mouth, and finally the straight one of these ways of the Nile is as follows: it goes from farther inland and comes to the Delta’s point and from there on splits the middle of the Delta and discharges into the sea there where it possesses a portion of its water neither the smallest nor least named, which is called the Sebennytian mouth. There are also two other mouths split off from the Sebennytian that lead to the sea, to which these names are given: to the one of them the Saitian and to the other the Mendesian. The Bolbitian mouth as well as the Boucolian, however, are not original, but dug.

Moreover, what also bears witness to my judgement that Egypt is so large a land as I have shown forth in my account is that which was given as an oracle of Ammon, of which I after my own judgement about Egypt learned by inquiry. For indeed those from the city of Marea and Apis settled in the places of Egypt that border on Libya, thinking themselves to be Libyans and not Egyptians and vexed at the performance of sacred rites, since they wanted not to be kept away from female cows, sent men to Ammon and asserted nothing was common to them and the Egyptians, in that they were settled outside the Delta and in nothing agreed with them, and consequently they wanted to be permitted to them to taste of everything. But the god refused to allow them to do that and asserted Egypt was that which the Nile by going up watered and the Egyptians were those who, settled below the city of Elephantina, drank from that river. Thus that was proclaimed to them.

The Nile goes up over, whenever it is full, not only the Delta, but also some spots in the place said to be Libyan and that said to be Arabian even over two days’ journey’s extent on each side, in fact a still greater than that and a lesser. However, about the river’s nature, neither anything from the priests nor from anyone else was I able to get a grasp of. I was eager to learn by inquiry from them this, why the Nile, when full, went down, beginning from the summer solstice for a hundred days, and when it drew near to the number of those days departed back and fell in its stream, so that it continued to be shallow the whole winter until summer solstice again. About that then I proved not capable of getting a grasp of anything from any of the Egyptians, when I inquired of them what power the Nile had to be by nature the opposite of all the other rivers. That indeed wanting to know, I inquired as well why alone of all rivers it had no breezes blowing from anywhere.

Some of the Greeks, wanting to prove signal for wisdom, spoke about that body of water three ways, two of which I think not even worthy to mention except in so far as I want to give an indication only. One of them said the Etesian winds were the cause that the river was full, since they prevented the Nile from flowing out to sea. However, in any case, although often the Etesians blew not, yet the Nile acted the same. In addition, if the Etesians had been the cause, all the other rivers too that flow opposite the Etesians would have had to suffer similarly and in the same way as the Nile, indeed the more still, the smaller they were and the more lacking strength the flowings they possessed. But many were the rivers in Syria and many in Libya, that suffered not a thing like what the Nile.

The other was more unknowing than the stated but, to exaggerate in speech, more marvellous, which said it flowed from the Oceanus and contrived that and Oceanus flowed round all the earth.

The third of the ways, being far the most specious, was the most false. For indeed that too said nothing in asserting the Nile flowed from melting snow, that river that flowed from Libya through the middle of the Ethiopians and discharges into Egypt. So just how then could it flow from snow, when it flowed from the hottest places into those of which the greater number are colder? For a man able to reason about a matter like that at any rate, that its flowing from snow was not even likely, the first and greatest testimony the winds furnished, since they blew hot from those lands, the second was that the land continued to be rainless and iceless and after snow’s falling there was every necessity for it to rain within five days, so that if it had snowed, those places would have been rained on, and thirdly was human beings’ being black by the burning heat’s agency, hawks and swallows ceased not to be throughout the year and cranes, fleeing from the coming of winter in Scythian land, resorted for wintering to those spaces. If then it had snowed even ever so little on that land through which the Nile flowed and from which it began flowing, not a single one of the above events would have taken place, as necessity proves.

He who spoke about Oceanus, however, carried up the myth to obscurity and admits of no proof, for I for my part know not of the existence of a river Oceanus, but Homer or one of the poets born earlier, I think, found and brought the name into poetry.

Hence, if one who finds fault with the proposed judgements must himself show forth a judgement about the obscure, I will point out on account of what the Nile seems to me to become full in the summer. During the winter season the sun is driven out of its original pathway by the storms and comes to Libya’s upper parts. Now, so far as making things clear in smallest compass, all has been said, because that country, nearest to whichever or at whichever that god is, it’s reasonable to be most thirsty for water and the flowings of that country’s rivers to shrink.

But, so far as making things clear in a larger account, it is as follows: going through Libya’s upper parts, the sun does this: seeing that all the time the lower air that’s at those places is clear and the country is open to the heat and without cold winds, going through, it does the very thing that also during the summer it is accustomed to do when it goes across the middle of the sky, in that it draws the water to itself and, after drawing it, thrusts it away to the upper places, and the winds by taking up and scattering disperse it. Indeed those blowing from that country, the South and the South-West, are, as is reasonable, far the rainiest of all winds. Also the sun seems to me not to send away all the year’s water on each occasion from the Nile, but in fact to leave some behind round itself. And, as the winter grows mild, the sun departs back to the middle sky and by then thereafter draws from all rivers alike. To that time some, as rain-water was mixed in a large amount with them, seeing that their country was rained on and cleft by gullies, have flowed big, but in the summer, when the rains fail them and they are drawn up by the sun, they are without strength, whereas the Nile, being rainless and drawn up by the sun, alone of rivers during that time, as is reasonable, by itself has flowed in its volume far inferiorly to what it does in the summer, since then it is drawn up equally as all bodies of water and during the winter it alone is exhausted.

Thus I have considered the sun to be the cause of that and that same is the cause in my judgement that also the lower air there is dry, since it burns thoroughly its pathway; thus Libya’s upper parts summer on each and every occasion occupies. Hence, if the position of the seasons were altered and in the sky, where now the North wind and the winter stand, there were the South wind’s position and the noon’s and, where the South wind now stands, there were the North wind, if that were thus, the sun, driven from the middle sky by the winter and the North wind, would go across the upper parts of Europe, just as now it goes across Libya’s, and I suppose it, going through all Europe, would affect the Ister the very way it now acts on the Nile.

Finally, about the breeze, why it blows not from anywhere, I have a judgement as follows, that from very hot countries it is not reasonable for it to blow from anywhere at all, but a breeze loves to blow from somewhere cold.

Now, let that be as it is and as to begin with it proved, and the Nile’s sources no one of either the Egyptians or the Libyans or the Greeks who came into speeches with me professed to know, except in Egypt in the city of Sais, the scribe of Athena’s sacred money, and he, to me at any rate, seemed to joke in asserting he knew exactly. For he spoke this way: there were two mountains brought to a point at their peaks, situated between the Theban city of Syena and Elephantina, and the names of the mountains were Crophi and Mophi; the sources of the Nile indeed then, being bottomless, flowed from the middle of those mountains and one half of the water flowed toward Egypt and to the North wind and the other half toward Ethiopia and the South. How the sources were bottomless, he asserted Psammetichus, Egypt’s king, came to make trial of that, since he himself, after plaiting a rope of many thousands of fathoms, let it go down there and it reached not a bottom. That very scribe, if he was saying that really was done, was bringing out to light, so far as I understand, some eddies were there strong as well as a backwater and, seeing that the water kept throwing it against the mountains, the sounding line, let go down, was unable to go to the bottom.

From no one else was I able to learn anything by inquiry, but just so much else as follows I did learn by inquiry over the greatest extent, on going an eyewitness up to the city of Elephantina and inquiring by that time from then on by hearsay. From the city of Elephantina for one going up the place is uphill; there then men must bind their boat tight on both sides just as a cow and make there way, but if it breaks away, the boat is gone, borne by the strength of the current. That place is a sailing for five days and the Nile there, just as the Maeander, is twisted; they are twelve ropes which one must sail through in that manner and thereafter you will come to a smooth plain, in which the Nile flows round an island (Tachompso is its name). The Ethiopians are settled here in the parts from Elephantina inland and on half the island; the Egyptians on the other half. A large lake is next to the island round which pastoral Ethiopians have their habitations; when you sail through it, you will have come to the Nile’s stream, which discharges into that lake and thereafter, on alighting alongside the river, you will make your way by road forty days, since sharp peaks emerge in the Nile and there are many low rocks, through which it is not possible to sail. On going through that place in the forty days, after embarking again on another ship, twelve days you will sail and thereafter you will have come to a great city, whose name is Meroe. That city is said to be the mother-city of all the other Ethiopians. Those in it reverence Zeus and Dionysus alone of gods and honor them greatly and a seat of prophecy of Zeus has been established by them. They advance with an army, whenever that god bids them through divine utterances and, whenever he bids, thither.

From that city, after sailing another length of time equal to the very in which you went from Elephantina to the mother-city of the Ethiopians, you will have come to the deserters. Those deserters’ name is Asmach and that word means in the Greek tongue those who stand by the king on the left side. They, twenty four myriads of Egyptian fighters, revolted to those Ethiopians for a reason like this: in the time of king Psammetichus, garrisons were established in the city of Elephantina toward the Ethiopians, another in Pelousian Daphnae toward the Arabians and the Syrians and another in Marea toward Libya. Still in my time and the Persians’ the garrisons are in the same arrangement as they were in Psammetichus’ time, for in fact the Persians keep guard in Elephantina and in Daphnae. Indeed then the Egyptians, after their keeping guard three years, no one would release from guarding; so they, having taken counsel and spoken a common speech, all revolted from Psammetichus and went to Ethiopia. And Psammetichus, when he had learned of it by inquiry, gave pursuit. After he had overtaken them, he asked for many things in his speech and refused to allow them to abandon the gods of their fathers and their offspring and wives. Then one of them, it is said, showed his pudendum and stated wherever that was, there would be both their offspring and wives. Those, when they had come to Ethiopia, gave themselves to the Ethiopians’ king. And he in return presented them with this: there were some among the Ethiopians become quarrellers; he bade those remove them and be settled in their land. Hence, those having made their homes with the Ethiopians, the Ethiopians have become gentler by learning Egyptian customs.

Now, during four month’s sailing and walking the Nile is known besides its flowing in Egypt; for so many months, if one reckons, is found to be used up by one making his way from Elephantina to those deserters; it flows from the west and the sun’s setting. But from here on no one can point out anything distinctly, because that country is desolate by burning heat’s agency.

The following, however, I heard from Cyrenian men who asserted that they came to Ammon’s oracle and came in to speeches with Etearchus, the Ammonians’ king; that indeed somehow after other speeches they came into a conversation about the Nile, how no one knew its source, and Etearchus asserted that once Nasamonian men came to him—that nation is Libyan and inhabits Syrtis and the country to the east of Syrtis not over a large extent—and the Nasamonians, on coming and being asked whether they were able to say anything advantageous about the desolate parts of Libya, asserted that among them were born chief men’s insolent children, who, become men, contrived other extravagances and especially chose by lot five of themselves to see the desolate parts of Libya and whether they could catch sight of anything more than they who had seen the farthest—for, regarding Libya’s parts off the North sea, beginning from Egypt, the Libyans and the Libyans’ many nations extend along the whole way up to the promontory of Soloeis, which ends in Libya, except for all that the Greeks and the Phoenicians have, but regarding the parts above the sea and the human beings who extend along the sea, Libya is beast-filled and the parts inland of the beast-filled land are sand, terribly waterless and bereft of everything; that then, when the young men were sent off by their contemporaries, furnished with water and food, they went at the first through settled land, having gone through that, came to the beast-filled, after that went through the desolate as they made their way to the West wind and, having gone through many a sandy spot and in many days, saw at last grown trees on a plain, when they approached and touched the fruit that was on the trees and on them as they touched advanced short men, smaller than ordinary men, and, on taking hold, led them off (as to language, neither the Nasamonians understood any of theirs nor those leading any of the Nasamonians’); and that they indeed led them through very large marshes, when, having gone through that, they came to a city, in which all were equal in their height to those leading and black in color, and by the city flowed a large river and flowed on its own from west to the sun’s rising and in it crocodiles appeared.

Let, then, Ammonian Etearchus’ speech to that great an extent be made clear by me, except for this, that he asserted, as the Cyrenians said, the Nasamonians returned and the human beings to whom they had come were wizards all. Moreover that very river that flowed by, Etearchus concluded, was the Nile and, what’s more, reason thus demands. For the Nile flows from Libya, even cuts the middle of Libya, and, as I conclude by taking what’s plain as evidence for what’s not known, starts from distances equal to the Ister. The Ister river flows beginning from the Celts and the city of Pyrene and splits the middle of Europe. The Celts are outside of Heracles’ pillars and border on the Cynesians, who are settled farthest toward the sun’s setting of those settled down in Europe. And the Ister ends at the sea and flows the way of the Hospitable sea through all Europe, where in Istria the Milesians are settled as colonists.

The Ister, then, because it flows through settled land, is known by many, but about the Nile’s source no one can know, since the Libya, through which it flows, is unsettled and desolate; so about its flowing, as much as was possible by inquiry to reach, has been said; finally it discharges into Egypt. And Egypt is situated somewhere pretty nearly opposite the mountainous Cilicia. Thence to Sinope on the Hospitable sea is five days’ straight road for a well-girt man and Sinope is situated opposite the Ister’s discharge into the sea. Thus the Nile, I think, goes through all Libya and is equal to the Ister. Now, about the Nile let so much be said.

(to be continued)

Egyptian statue in museum

Text and photographs Copyright © 1999—2003 Lost Trails
all rights reserved