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Egypt, besides its boast of extreme antiquity, asserts that it contained, in the reign of King Amasis1, 20,000 inhabited cities: in our day they are still very numerous, though no longer of any particular note. Still however we find the following ones mentioned as of great renown—the city of Apollo2; next, that of Leucothea3; then Great Diospolis4, otherwise Thebes, known to fame for its hundred gates; Coptos5, which from its proximity to the Nile, forms its nearest emporium for the merchandise of India and Arabia; then the town of Venus6, and then another town of Jupi- ter7. After this comes Tentyris8, below which is Abydus9, the royal abode of Memnon, and famous for a temple of Osiris10, which is situate in Libya11, at a distance from the river of seven miles and a half. Next to it comes Ptolemais12, then Panopolis13, and then another town of Venus14, and, on the Libyan side, Lycon15, where the mountains form the boundary of the province of Thebais. On passing these, we come to the towns of Mercury16, Alabastron17, the town of Dogs18, and that of Hercules already mentioned19. We next come to Arsinoë20, and Memphis21, which has been previously mentioned; between which last and the Nome of Arsinoïtes, upon the Libyan side, are the towers known as the Pyramids, the Labyrinth22 on Lake Mœris, in the construction of which no wood was employed, and the town of Crialon23. Besides these, there is one place in the interior, on the confines of Arabia, of great celebrity, the City of the Sun24.

(10.) With the greatest justice, however, we may lavish our praises upon Alexandria, built by Alexander the Great on the shores of the Egyptian Sea, upon the soil of Africa, at twelve miles' distance from the Canopic Mouth and near Lake Mareotis25; the spot having previously borne the name of Rhacotes. The plan of this city was designed by the architect Dinochares26, who is memorable for the genius which he displayed in many ways. Building the city upon a wide space27 of ground fifteen miles in circumference, he formed it in the circular shape of a Macedonian chlamys28, uneven at the edge, giving it an angular projection on the right and left; while at the same time he devoted one-fifth part of the site to the royal palace.

Lake Mareotis, which lies on the south side of the city, is connected by a canal which joins it to the Canopic mouth, and serves for the purposes of communication with the interior. It has also a great number of islands, and is thirty miles across, and 150 in circumference, according to Claudius Cæsar. Other writers say that it is forty schœni in length, making the schœnum to be thirty stadia; hence, according to them, it is 150 miles29 in length and the same in breadth.

There are also, in the latter part of the course of the Nile, many towns of considerable celebrity, and more especially those which have given their names to the mouths of the river—I do not mean, all the mouths, for there are no less than twelve of them, as well as four others, which the people call the False Mouths30. I allude to the seven more famous ones, the Canopic31 Mouth, next to Alexandria, those of Bolbitine32, Sebennys33, Phatnis34, Mendes35, Tanis36, and, last of all, Pelusium37. Besides the above there are the towns of Butos38, Pharbæthos39, Leontopolis40, Athribis41, the town of Isis42, Busiris43, Cynopolis44, Aphrodites45, Sais46, and Naucratis47, from which last some writers call that the Naucratitic Mouth, which is by others called the Heracleotic, and mention it instead48 of the Canopic Mouth, which is the next to it.

1 The last king of the line of Psammetichus, B.C. 569. He succeeded Apries, whom the Egyptians put to death. He died just before the invasion by Cambyses, having displayed great abilities as a ruler.

2 There was the Greater Apollinopolis, the modem Edfoo, in the Thebaid, on the western bank of the Nile, in lat. 25° north, about thirteen miles below the lesser Cataract: its inhabitants were enemies of the crocodile and its worshippers. The remains of two temples there are considered second only to the temple of Denderah as specimens of the sacred structures of Egypt. A Lesser Apollinopolis was in Upper Egypt, on the western bank of the Nile, in lat. 27° north. Another Lesser Apollinopolis was a town of the Thebaid in the Coptite Nome, in lat. 26° north, situate between Thebes and Coptos. It was situate at the present Kuss.

3 Its site is unknown. Hardouin suggests that it is the Eilethuia of Ptolemy, the modern El-Kab.

4 City of Jupiter," the Greek name for Thebes, the No or No Ammon of Scripture. It stood in the centre of the Thebaid, on both banks of the Nile, above Coptos, and in the Nomos Coptites. Its ruins, which are the most magnificent in the world, enclose within their site the four villages of Carnac, Luxor, Medinet Abou, and Gournou.

5 Its hieroglyphical name was Kobto, and its site is now occupied by the modern town of Kouft or Keft. It was situate in lat. 26° north, on the right bank of the Nile, about a mile from its banks. As a halting place or rather watering-place for the caravans, it was enriched by the commerce between Libya and Egypt on the one hand, and Arabia and India and Egypt on the other, the latter being carried on through the port of Berenice on the Red Sea, founded by Ptolemy Philadelphus, B.C. 266. In the seventh century of the Christian era, it bore for some time the name of Justinianopolis. There are a few remains of Roman buildings to be seen on its site.

6 Also called Aphrodite or Aphroditopolis. Of this name there were several towns or cities in ancient Egypt. In Lower Egypt there was Atarbechis, thus named, and a town mentioned by Strabo in the nome of Leontopolites. In the Heptanomis or Middle Egypt there was the place, the ruins of which are called Aftyeh, on the east side of the Nile, and the capital of the nome of Aphroditopolites. In Upper Egypt or the Thebais there was the present Tachta, on the west side of the Nile, between Ptolemais and Panopolis, capital of another nome of Aphroditopolites, and that one the ruins of which are now called Deir, on the west bank of the Nile, higher up than the former, and, like it, some distance from the river. It was situate in the nome Hermonthites.

7 Another Diospolis. Great Diospolis is mentioned in the preceding page.

8 Or Tentyra. The modern Dendera of the Arabs, called Dendôri or Hidendôri by the ancient Egyptians.

9 In ancient times called This, and in Coptic Ebôt, the ruins of which are now known as Arábat-el-Matfoon. It was the chief town of the Nomos Thinites, and was situate in lat. 26°10′ north and long. 32°3′ east. In the Thebaid it ranked next to Thebes itself. Here according to general belief was the burial-place of Osiris. In the time of Strabo it had sunk into a mere village. Its ruins, though nearly buried in the sand, are very extensive. There is, however, some uncertainty as to the exact identity of This with Abydus.

10 The ruins of these places are still to be seen at Abydus.

11 He calls the whole of the country on the western bank of the Nile by this name.

12 Called Absou or Absaï by the Arabs, and Psoë by the ancient Egyptians. It has been suggested that it was the same place as This, more generally identified with Abydus.

13 Its site is now called Ekhmin or Akhmin by the Arabs, Khmim being its ancient Egyptian name. It was the chief town of the nome of Panopolites, and the deity Phthah was worshipped there under the form of Priapus.

14 Another Aphroditopolis, the present Tachta, mentioned above, in Note6 in the last page. Pliny distinguishes it from that now called Deir, mentioned above.

15 Now known as Es-Siout.

16 Or Hermopolis—the modern Esh-moon or Ash-mounion, on the eastern bank of the Nile, in lat. 27°54′ north. It was the capital of the Hermopolite nome in the Heptanomis. It was a place of great opulence and densely populated. The deities Typhon and Thoth were principally worshipped at this place. The latter, the inventor of the pen and letters, nearly corresponded with the Hermes of the Greeks (the Mercury of the Romans), from which the Hellenized name of the place. Its ruins are very extensive.

17 This town was no doubt connected with the alabaster quarries of Mount Alabasternus, now Mount St. Anthony, and the hill of Alabastrites, now the Côteau Hessan.

18 Or Cynopolis, the chief place of the Cynopolite nome. The Dog-headed deity Anubis was worshipped here. The modern Samallus occupies its site. This place was in the Heptanomis, but there were several other towns of the same name, one of which was situate in the Delta or Lower Egypt.

19 In C. 9, when speaking of the nome of Heracleopolites; of which nome, this place, called Heracleopolis, was the capital. It was situate at the entrance of the valley of the Fayoum, on an island formed by the Nile and a canal. After Memphis and Heliopolis it was probably the most important city north of the Thebaid. It furnished two dynasties of kings to Egypt. The ichneumon was worshipped here, from which it may be inferred that the people were hostile to the crocodile. Its ruins are inconsiderable; the village of Anasieh covers part of them.

20 The capital of the nome of Arsinoites, seated on the western bank of the Nile, between the river and Lake Mœris, south-west of Memphis, in lat. 29° north. It was called under the Pharaohs, "the City of Crocodiles," from the reverence paid by the people to that animal. Its ruins are to be seen at Medinet-el-Fayoom or El-Fares.

21 Its magnificent ruins, known by the name of Menf and Metrabenny, are to be seen about ten miles above the pyramids of Gizeh.

22 This lay beyond Lake Mœris, or Birket-el-Keroun, at a short distance from the city of Arsinoë. It had 3000 apartments, 1500 of which were underground. The accounts given by modern travellers of its supposed ruins do not agree with what we have learned from the ancients respecting its architecture and site. The purposes for which it was built are unknown. Its supposed site is called Havara.

23 If this is not an abbreviation or corruption for Crocodilon, as Hardouin suggests, it may probably mean the "town of Rams," from the worship perhaps of that animal there.

24 Heliopolis or Rameses. In Scripture it is called by the names of On and No—Gen. xli. 45 and Ezek. xxx. 15. It stood on the eastern side of the Pelusiac arm of the Nile, near the right bank of the Great Canal which connected the river with the Red Sea, and close adjoining to the present overland route for travellers to India. It was one of the most ancient of the Egyptian cities; here the father-in-law of Joseph exercised the office of high-priest, and here the prophet Jeremiah is supposed to have written his Book of Lamentations. Its priests were the great depositaries of the theological and historical learning of Egypt. Solon, Thales, and Plato were reputed each to have visited its schools. According to Macrobius, Baalbec, the Syrian City of the Sun, was a colony from this place. It was the capital of the nome Heliopolites, and paid worship to the sun and the bull Mnevis, the rival of Apis. From Josephus we learn that after the dispersion and fall of the tribes of Judah and Israel, great numbers of the Jews took refuge at this place, forming almost one-half of its population. The ruins, which were extremely magnificent, occupied in the twelfth century an area nearly three miles in extent. Pliny speaks of the great obelisk there, which is still standing. (See B. xxxvi. c. 9.) The village of Matarieh occupies a part of its site, and besides the obelisk of red granite, there are a few remains of the Temple of the Sun.

25 Now called Birk-el-Mariout.

26 Or Dinocrates. He was the architect of the new temple of Diana at Ephesus, which was built after the destruction of the former one by Herostratus. It was this architect who formed a design for cutting Mount Athos into a statue of Alexander, with a city in the right hand and a reservoir of the mountain streams in the left.

27 Holland seems to think that the word "laxitate" applies to chlamys.

28 The chlamys was a scarf or cloak worn over the shoulders, and especially used by military persons of high rank. It did not reach lower than the knees, and was open in front, covering only the neck, back, and shoulders.

29 Its real dimensions were something less than 300 stadia, or thirty geographical miles long, and rather more than 150 stadia wide.

30 Or "Pseudostomata." These were crossed in small boats, as they were not navigable for ships of burden.

31 In the Pharaonic times Canopus was the capital of the nome of Menelaïtes, and the principal harbour of the Delta. It probably owed its name to the god Canobus, a pitcher full of holes, with a human head, which was worshipped here with peculiar pomp. It was remarkable for the number of its festivals and the general dissoluteness of its morals. Traces of its ruins are to be seen about three miles from the modern Aboukir.

32 Corresponding to the modern Raschid or Rosetta. It is supposed that this place was noted for its manufactory of chariots.

33 The town of Sebennys or Sebennytum, now Samannoud, gave name to one of the nomes, and the Sebennytic Mouth of the Nile.

34 Or the Pathinetic or Bucolic Mouth, said to be the same as the modern Damietta Mouth.

35 The capital of the Mendesian nome, called by the Arabs Ochmoun. This mouth is now known as the Deibeh Mouth.

36 Now called Szan or Tzan. The Tanitic Mouth, which is sometimes called the Saitic, is at the present day called Omm-Faredjé.

37 Its ruins are to be seen at the modern Tineh. This city in early times had the name of Abaris. It was situate on the eastern side of the most easterly mouth of the Nile, which, after it, was called the Pelusiac Mouth, about two miles from the sea, in the midst of morasses. Being the fiontier city towards Syria and Arabia it was strongly fortified. It was the birth-place of Ptolemy the geographer.

38 Butos or Buto stood on the Sebennytic arm of the Nile near its mouth, on the southern shores of the Butic Lake. It was the chief seat of the worship of the goddess Buto, whom the Greeks identified with Leto or Latona. The modern Kem Kasir occupies its site.

39 Called Harbait by the Arabs, and Farbait by the ancient Egyptians.

40 In the Delta. It was the capital of the nome of Leontopolites, and probably of late foundation, as no writer previous to Pliny mentions it. Its site is uncertain, but Thall-Essabouah, the "Hill of the Lion," has been suggested.

41 The chief town of the Athribitic nome in Lower Egypt. It stood on the eastern bank of the Tanitic branch of the Nile. This nome and town derived their name from the goddess Thriphis, whom the inscriptions there and at Panopolis designate as the "most great goddess." The ruins at Atrieb or Trieb, at the spot where the modern canal of Moueys turns off from the Nile, represent the ancient Athribis. They are very extensive, and among them are considerable remains of the Roman era.

42 This was situate near the city or town of Busiris in the Delta. The modern village of Bahbeyt is supposed to cover the ruins of the temple of Isis.

43 The modern Busyr or Abousir, where considerable ruins of the ancient city are still to be seen. It was the chief town of the nome of Busirites, and stood south of Sais, near the Phatnitic mouth, on the western bank of the Nile. This was also the name of a town in Middle Egypt, in the neighbourhood of Memphis, and represented by another village of the name of Abousir. Pliny, B. xxxvi. c. 16, speaks of the Catacombs in its vicinity.

44 The place of that name in the Delta is here meant.

45 Probably the town of that name, otherwise called Aphroditopolis, in the nome of Leontopolites.

46 The ruins of which are now called Sa-el-Hajjar. It was situate in the Delta, on the east side of the Canopic branch of the Nile. It was the ancient capital of Lower Egypt and contained the palace and burial-place of the Pharaohs. It was the chief seat of the worship of the Egyptian goddess Neith, also known as Sais. It gave its name to the nome of Saïtes.

47 It was situate in the Delta of Egypt and in the nome of Saïtes, on the eastern bank of the Canopic branch of the Nile. It was a colony of the Milesians, founded probably in the reign of Amasis, about B.C. 550, and remained a pure Greek city. It was the only place in Egypt in which, in the time of the later Pharaohs, foreigners were permitted to settle and trade. In later times it was famous for the worship of Aphrodite or Venus, and rivalled Canopus in the dissoluteness of its manners.

48 Ptolemy the geographer does this.

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    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), AEGYPTUS
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