This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 There is another canal also, which empties itself into the Red Sea, or Arabian Gulf, near the city Arsinoë, which some call Cleopatris.1 It flows through the Bitter Lakes, as they are called, which were bitter formerly, but when the above-mentioned canal was cut, the bitter quality was altered by their junction with the river, and at present they contain excellent fish, and abound with aquatic birds. The canal was first cut by Sesostris before the Trojan times, but according to other writers, by the son of2 Psammitichus, who only began the work, and afterwards died; lastly, Darius the First succeeded to the completion of the undertaking, but he desisted from continuing the work, when it was nearly finished, influenced by an erroneous opinion that the level of the Red Sea was higher than Egypt, and that if the whole of the intervening isthmus were cut through, the country would be overflowed by the sea. The Ptolemaic kings however did cut through it, and placed locks upon the canal,3 so that they sailed, when they pleased, without obstruction into the outer sea, and back again [into the canal]. We have spoken of the surfaces of bodies of water in the first part of this work.4
2 Pharaoh Necho, under whom and in the execution of the work 120,000 labourers perished. Herod. ii. 158.
3 κλειτὸν ἐποίησαν τὸν εὔριπον, ‘closed the Euripus.’ Diodorus Siculus, i. 33, thus speaks of this same work. ‘Darius the Persian left the canal unfinished, as he was informed by some persons, that by cutting through the isthmus he would be the cause of inundating Egypt; for they pointed out to him that the Red Sea was higher than the level of Egypt. The second Ptolemy afterwards completed the canal, and in the most convenient part constructed an artfully contrived barrier, (διάφοͅαημα,) which he could open when he liked for the passage of vessels, and quickly close again, the operation being easily performed.’ The immediate communication therefore between the sea and the canal was cut off by a lock; and as there must have been two, there would be a flux and reflux of water between them on the passage of vessels. This probably suggested to our author the word Euripus, and is to be understood as applying to that portion of the canal included between the locks. By the word Euripus is generally understood the channel between Negropont and the mainland, which is subject to an ebb and flow of the sea. The storing up of water, and the distribution of it for the purposes of irrigation, was no doubt well known to the Egyptians. Diodorus, b. i. 19, ascribes to Osiris the invention. "Osiris confined the Nile by embankments on both sides, so that at the period of its rising it might not inconveniently spread over the country, but that, by gates (διὰ θυοͅῶν) adapted for the purpose, the stream might be gently discharged as occasion required.
4 B. i. c. i. § 20.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.