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 They live on millet and barley, from which also a drink is prepared. They have no oil, but use butter and fat instead.1 There are no fruits, except the produce of trees in the royal gardens. Some feed even upon grass, the tender twigs of trees, the lotus, or the roots of reeds. They live also upon the flesh and blood of animals, milk, and cheese. They reverence their kings as gods, who are for the most part shut up in their palaces. Their largest royal seat is the city of Meroë, of the same name as the island. The shape of the island is said to be that of a shield. Its size is perhaps exaggerated. Its length is about 3000, and its breadth 1000 stadia. It is very mountainous, and contains great forests. The inhabitants are nomades, who are partly hunters and partly husbandmen. There are also mines of copper, iron, gold, and various kinds of precious stones. It is surrounded on the side of Libya by great hills of sand, and on that of Arabia by continuous precipices. In the higher parts on the south, it is bounded by the confluent2 streams of the rivers Astaboras,3 Astapus,4 and Astasobas. On the north is the continuous course of the Nile to Egypt, with its windings, of which we have spoken before. The houses in the cities are formed by interweaving split pieces of palm wood or of bricks.5 They have fossil salt, as in Arabia. Palm, the persea6 (peach), ebony, and carob trees are found in abundance. They hunt elephants, lions, and panthers. There are also serpents, which encounter elephants, and there are many other kinds of wild animals, which take refuge, from the hotter and parched districts, in watery and marshy districts.
1 The translation follows the proposed correction of the text by Kramer.
2 ταῖς συμβολαῖς. The passage presents a great difficulty, because Strabo has before asserted that Meroë is surrounded by these rivers, and that their union takes place below, that is, to the north, and not to the south of the city and island; and this notion corresponds with all the ancients have said on the subject. I declare, without hesitation, that I do not understand my author. Letronne. Groskurd attempts to avoid the difficulty by translating, ‘is within the compass of.’
3 The Tacazze.
4 Bahr-el-Azrek, or Blue River.
6 The trees called persiai (or perseai) produce a fruit of great sweetness, which was introduced from Ethiopia by the Persians, when Cambyses conquered that country. Diod. Sic. i. 34.
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