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 Persisting in his false views in relation to Homer, he goes on to say, ‘He was ignorant that the Nile separated into many mouths, nay, he was not even acquainted with the name of the river, though Hesiod knew it well, for he even mentions it.’1 In respect of the name, it is probable that it had not then been given to the river, and as to the mouths, if they were obscure and little known, will not every one excuse him for not being aware whether there were several or merely one? At that time, the river, its rising, and its mouths were considered, as they are at the present day, amongst the most remarkable, the most wonderful, and most worthy of recording of all the peculiarities of Egypt: who can suppose that those who told our poet of the country and river of Egypt, of Egyptian Thebes, and of Pharos, were unaware of the many embouchures of the Nile; or that being aware, they would not have described them, were it not that they were too generally known? ‘But is it not inconceivable that Homer should describe Ethiopia, and the Sidonians, the Erembi, and the Exterior Sea,2—should tell us that Ethiopia was divided into two parts, and yet nothing about those things which were nearer and better known?’ Certainly not, his not describing these things is no proof that he was not acquainted with them. He does not tell us of his own country, nor yet many other things. The most probable reason is, they were so generally known that they did not appear to him worth recording.3
1 Gosselin observes that Hesiod lived about forty years after Homer, and he mentions not only the Nile, but also the Po, with which certainly Homer was unacquainted. He speaks too of the Western Ocean, where he places the Gorgons, and the garden of the Hesperides. It is very likely that these various points of information were brought into Greece by the Carthaginians. The name Nile seems to be merely a descriptive title; it is still in use in many countries of India, where it signifies water. The river known subsequently as the Nile, was, in Homer's time, called the River of Egypt, or the River Egyptus; by the latter of which titles he was acquainted with it. See Odyssey xvii. 448.
2 By this expression is intended the Atlantic.
3 Gosselin remarks that the arguments made use of by Strabo are not sufficiently conclusive. The country with which the Greeks were best acquainted was Greece, undoubtedly, and it is this land which Homer has described with the greatest exactness of detail.
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