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We have not as yet taken any notice of the marsh plants, nor yet of the shrubs that grow upon the banks of rivers: before quitting Egypt, however, we must make some mention of the nature of the papyrus, seeing that all the usages of civilized life depend in such a remarkable degree upon the employment of paper—at all events, the remembrance of past events. M. Varro informs us that paper owes its discovery to the victorious1 career of Alexander the Great, at the time when Alexandria in Egypt was founded by him; before which period paper had not been used, the leaves of the palm having been employed for writing at an early period, and after that the bark of certain trees. In succeeding ages, public documents were inscribed on sheets of lead, while private memoranda were impressed upon linen cloths, or else engraved on tablets of wax; indeed, we find it stated in Homer,2 that tablets were employed for this purpose even before the time of the Trojan war. It is generally supposed, too, that the country which that poet speaks of as Egypt, was not the same that is at present understood by that name, for the Sebennytic and the Saitic3 Nomes, in which all the papyrus is produced, have been added since his time by the alluvion of the Nile; indeed, he himself has stated4 that the main-land was a day and a night's sail from the island of Pharos5, which island at the present day is united by a bridge to the city of Alexandria. In later times, a rivalry having sprung up between King Ptolemy and King Eumenes,6 in reference to their respective libraries, Ptolemy prohibited the export of papyrus; upon which, as Varro relates, parchment was invented for a similar purpose at Pergamus. After this, the use of that commodity, by which immortality is ensured to man, became universally known.

1 It is hardly necessary to state that this is not the fact. This plant is the Cyperus papyrus of Linnæus, the "berd" of the modern Egyptians.

2 II. B. vi. 1. 168. See B. xxxiii. c. 4, where the tablets which are here called "pugillares," are styled "codicilli" by Pliny.

3 His argument is, that paper made from the papyrus could not be known in the time of Homer, as that plant only grew in certain districts which had been rescued from the sea since the time of the poet.

4 Od. B. iv. 1. 355.

5 See B. ii. c. 87.

6 There is little doubt that parchment was really known many years before the time of Eumenes II., king of Pontus. It is most probable that this king introduced extensive improvements in the manufacture of parchment, for Herodotus mentions writing on skins as common in his time; and in B. v. c. 58, he states that the Ionians had been accustomed to give the name of skins,διφθέραι, , to books.

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    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 5.58
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    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), PHASAE´LIS
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