previous next


We will now trace the rest of the coast that lies opposite to that of Arabia. Timosthenes has estimated the length of the whole gulf at four days' sail, and the breadth at two, making the Straits1 to be seven miles and a half in width. Eratosthenes says that the length of the shore from the mouth of the gulf is thirteen hundred miles on each side, while Artemidorus states that the length on the Arabian side is seventeen hundred and fifty miles, (29.) and that along the Troglodytic coast, to Ptolemais, the distance is eleven hundred and thirty-seven and a half. Agrippa, however, maintains that there is no difference whatever in the length of the two sides, and makes it seventeen hundred and twenty-two miles. Most writers mention the length as being four hundred and seventy-five miles, and make the Straits to face the southeast, being twelve miles wide according to some, fifteen according to others.

The localities of this region are as follow: On passing the Ælanitic Gulf there is another gulf, by the Arabians called Sœa, upon which is situate the city of Heroön.2 The town of Cambysu3 also stood here formerly, between the Neli and the Marchades, Cambyses having established there the invalids of his army. We then come to the nation of the Tyri, and the port of the Danei, from which place an attempt has been made to form a navigable canal to the river Nile, at the spot where it enters the Delta previously mentioned,4 the distance between the river and the Red Sea being sixty-two miles. This was contemplated first of all by Sesostris,5 king of Egypt, afterwards by Darius, king of the Persians, and still later by Ptolemy II.,6 who also made a canal, one hundred feet in width and forty deep, extending a distance of thirty-seven miles and a half, as far as the Bitter Springs.7 He was deterred from proceeding any further with this work by apprehensions of an inundation, upon finding that the Red Sea was three cubits higher than the land in the interior of Egypt. Some writers, however, do not allege this as the cause, but say that his reason was, a fear lest, in consequence of introducing the sea, the water of the Nile might be spoilt, that being the only source from which the Egyptians obtain water for drinking. Be this as it may, the whole of the journey from the Egyptian Sea is usually performed by land one of the three following ways:—Either from Pelusium across the sands, in doing which the only method of finding the way is by means of reeds fixed in the earth, the wind immediately effacing all traces of footsteps: by the route which begins two miles beyond Mount Casius, and at a distance of sixty miles enters the road from Pelusium, adjoining to which road the Arabian tribe of the Autei dwell; or else by a third route, which leads from Gerrum, and which they call Adipsos,8 passing through the same Arabians, and shorter by nearly sixty miles, but running over rugged mountains and through a district destitute of water. All these roads lead to Arsinoë,9 a city founded in honour of his sister's name, upon the Gulf of Carandra, by Ptolemy Philadelphus, who was the first to explore Troglodytice, and called the river which flows before Arsinoë by the name of Ptolemæus. After this comes the little town of Enum, by some writers mentioned as Philotera; next to which are the Abasæi, a nation sprung from intermarriages with the Troglodytæ, then some wild Arabian tribes, the islands of Sapirine and Scytala, and after these, deserts as far as Myoshormon, where we find the fountain of Tatnos, Mount Æas, the island of Iambe, and numerous harbours. Berenice also, is here situate, so called after the name of the mother of Philadelphus, and to which there is a road from Coptos, as we have previously stated;10 then the Arabian Autei, and the Zebadei.

1 The Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb.

2 Or Heroöpolis, a city east of the Delta, in Egypt, and situate near the mouth of the royal canal which connected the Nile with the Red Sea. It was of considerable consequence as a trading station upon the arm of the Red Sea, which runs up as far as Arsinoë, the modern Suez, and was called the "Gulf" or "Bay of the Heroes." The ruins of Heroöpolis are still visible at Abu-Keyscheid.

3 This place, as here implied, took its name from Cambyses, the son of Cyrus.

4 In c. 9 of the preceding Book. "Dictum," however, may only mean, "called" the Delta.

5 Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, and Tzetzes, mention this, not with reference to Sesostris, but Necho, the grandson of Sesostris.

6 Ptolemy Philadelphus, son of Ptolemy Soter, or Lagides.

7 Now known by the name of Scheib. They derived their name from the saline flavour and deposition of their waters. These springs were strongly impregnated with alkaline salts, and with muriate of lime washed from the rocks which separated the Delta from the Red Sea. The salt which they produced being greatly valued, they were on that account regarded as the private property of the kings.

8 The "not thirsty" route, so called by way of antiphrasis.

9 See B. v. c. 9.

10 In c. 26 of the present Book.

Creative Commons License
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.

load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (5):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), AEGYPTUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), ARACHO´TUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), BERENI´CE
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), JOTABE
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), ROMA
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (2):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: