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Papyrus grows either in the marshes of Egypt, or in the sluggish waters of the river Nile, when they have overflowed and are lying stagnant, in pools that do not exceed a couple of cubits in depth. The root lies obliquely,1 and is about the thickness of one's arm; the section of the stalk is triangular, and it tapers gracefully upwards towards the extremity, being not more than ten cubits at most in height. Very much like a thyrsus2 in shape, it has a head on the top, which has no seed3 in it, and, indeed, is of no use whatever, except as a flower employed to crown the statues of the gods. The natives use the roots by way of wood, not only for firing, but for various other domestic purposes as well. From the papyrus itself they construct boats4 also, and of the outer coat they make sails and mats, as well as cloths, besides coverlets and ropes; they chew it also, both raw and boiled, though they swallow the juice only.

The papyrus grows in Syria also, on the borders of the same lake around which grows the sweet-scented calamus;5 and King Antiochus used to employ the productions of that country solely as cordage for naval purposes; for the use of spartum6 had not then become commonly known. More recently it has been understood that a papyrus grows in the river Euphrates, in the vicinity of Babylon, from which a similar kind of paper may easily be produced: still, however, up to the present time the Parthians have preferred to impress7 their characters upon cloths

1 Brachiali radicis obliqueæ crassitudine.

2 This was a pole represented as being carried by Bacchus and his Bacchanalian train. It was mostly terminated by the fir cone, that tree being dedicated to Bacchus, in consequence of the use of its cones and turpentine in making wine. Sometimes it is surmounted by vine or fig leaves, with grapes or berries arranged in form of a cone.

3 This is not the fact: it has seed in it, though not very easily percep. tible. The description here given is otherwise very correct.

4 Among the ancients the term papyrus was used as a general appellation for all the different plants of the genus Cyperus, which was used for making mats, boats, baskets, and numerous other articles: but one species only was employed for making paper, the Cyperus papyrus, or Byblos. Fee states that the papyrus is no longer to be found in the Delta, where it formerly abounded.

5 See B. xii. c. 48.

6 Sometimes translated hemp. A description will be given of it in B. xix. c. 7.

7 "Intexere." This would almost appear to mean that they embroidered or interwove the characters. The Persians still write on a stuff made of white silk, gummed and duly prepared for the purpose.

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