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Besides this story of the rearing of the children, I also heard other things at Memphis in conversation with the priests of Hephaestus;Identified by the Greeks with the Egyptian Ptah. and I visited Thebes and Heliopolis, too, for this very purpose, because I wished to know if the people of those places would tell me the same story as the priests at Memphis; for the people of Heliopolis are said to be the most learned of the Egyptians. Now, such stories as I heard about the gods I am not ready. and I visited Thebes and Heliopolis, too, for this very purpose, because I wished to know if the people of those places would tell me the same story as the priests at Memphis; for the people of Heliopolis are said to be the most learned of the Egyptians. Now, such stories as I heard about the gods I am not ready to relate, except their names, for I believe that all men are equally knowledgeable about them; and I shall say about them what I am constrained to say by the course of my history.
Beyond and above Heliopolis, Egypt is a narrow land. For it is bounded on the one side by the mountains of Arabia, which run north to south, always running south towards the sea called the Red Sea. In these mountains are the quarries that were hewn out for making the pyramids at Memphis. This way, then, the mountains run, and end in the places of which I have spoken; their greatest width from east to west, as I learned by inquiry, is a two months' journey, and their easternmost boundaries yield frankincense. Such are these mountains. On the side of Libya, Egypt is bounded by another range of rocky mountains among which are the pyramids; these are all covered with sand, and run in the same direction as those Arabian hills that run southward. Beyond Heliopolis, there is no great distance—in Egypt, that is:w(s ei)=nai ai)gu/ptou; so much of the Nile valley being outside Egypt. But it is possible that the words may mean “no great distance, for Egypt,” i.e. no great distance relatively to<
The greater portion, then, of this country of which I have spoken was land deposited for the Egyptians as the priests told me, and I myself formed the same judgment; all that lies between the ranges of mountains above Memphis to which I have referred seemed to me to have once been a gulf of the sea, just as the country about Ilion and Teuthrania and Ephesus and the plain of the Maeander, to compare these small things with great. For of the rivers that brought down the stuff to make these lands, there is none worthy to be compared for greatness with even one of the mouths of the Nile, and the Nile has five mouths. There are also other rivers, not so great as the Nile, that have had great effects; I could rehearse their names, but principal among them is the Achelous, which, flowing through Acarnania and emptying into the sea, has already made half of the Echinades Islands mainland.
As for Egypt, then, I credit those who say it, and myself very much believe it to be the case; for I have seen that Egypt projects into the sea beyond the neighboring land, and shells are exposed to view on the mountains, and things are coated with salt, so that even the pyramids show it, and the only sandy mountain in Egypt is that which is above Memphis; besides, Egypt is like neither the neighboring land of Arabia nor Libya, not even like Syria (for Syrians inhabit the seaboard of Arabia); it is a land of black and crumbling earth, as if it were alluvial deposit carried down the river from Aethiopia; but we know that the soil of Libya is redder and somewhat sandy, and Arabia and Syria are lands of clay and stones.
This, too, that the priests told me about Egypt, is a strong proof: when Moeris was king, if the river rose as much as thirteen feet, it watered all of Egypt below Memphis.Supposing this statement to be true, Moeris must have been king much more than 900 years before Hdt.: 900 years being much too short a period for a rise of eight cubits in the height of the Nile valley. Moeris had not been dead nine hundred years when I heard this from the priests. But now, if the river does not rise at least twenty-six or twenty-five feet, the land is not flooded. And, in my opinion, the Egyptians who inhabit the lands lower down the river than lake Moeris, and especially what is called the Delta—if this land of theirs rises in the same proportion and broadens likewise in extent, and the Nile no longer floods it—will forever after be in the same straits as they themselves once said the Greeks would be; for, learning that all the Greek land is watered by rain, but not by river water like theirs, t
And this prediction of the Egyptians about the Greeks was true enough. But now let me show the prospect for the Egyptians themselves: if, as I have already said, the country below Memphis (for it is this which rises) should increase in height in the same proportion as formerly, will not the Egyptians who inhabit it go hungry, as there is no rain in their country and the river will be unable to inundate their fields? At present, of course, there are no people, either in the rest of Egypt or in the whole world, who live from the soil with so little labor; they do not have to break the land up with the plough, or hoe, or do any other work that other men do to get a crop; the river rises of itself, waters the fields, and then sinks back again; then each man sows his field and sends swine into it to tread down the seed, and waits for the harvest; then he has the swine thresh his grain, and so garners it.
They believe that bulls belong to Epaphus,Epaphus is the Greek form of Apis or Hapi, the bull-god of Memphis; for bulls cf. Mair's Oppian (L.C.L.) Cyn. II. 86, note. and for this reason scrutinize them as follows; if they see even one black hair on them, the bull is considered impure. One of the priests, appointed to the task, examines the beast, making it stand and lie, and drawing out its tongue, to determine whether it is clean of the stated signs which I shall indicate hereafter.Hdt. 3.28 He looks also to the hairs of the tail, to see if they grow naturally. If it is clean in all these respects, the priest marks it by wrapping papyrus around the horns, then smears it with sealing-earth and stamps it with his ring; and after this they lead the bull away. But the penalty is death for sacrificing a bull that the priest has not marked. Such is the manner of approving the beast; I will now describe how it is sacrificed.
When the Nile overflows the land, only the towns are seen high and dry above the water, very like the islands in the Aegean sea. These alone stand out, the rest of Egypt being a sheet of water. So when this happens, folk are not ferried, as usual, in the course of the stream, but clean over the plain. Indeed, the boat going up from Naucratis to Memphis passes close by the pyramids themselves, though the course does not go by here,The meaning of these words is not clear. Some think that they mean “though here the course is not so” and that perhaps o( e)wqw/s has been lost after ou(=tos. but by the Delta's point and the town Cercasorus; but your voyage from the sea and Canobus to Naucratis will take you over the plain near the town of Anthylla and that which is called Arkhandrus' tow