previous next


Troglodytice comes next, by the ancients called Midoë, and by some Michoë; here is Mount Pentedactylos, some islands called Stenæ Deiræ,1 the Halonnesi,2 a group of islands not less in number, Cardamine, and Topazos,3 which last has given its name to the precious stone so called. The gulf is full of islands; those known as Mareu are supplied with fresh water, those called Erenos, are without it; these were ruled by governors4 appointed by the kings. In the interior are the Candei, also called Ophiophagi, a people in the habit of eating serpents; there is no region in existence more productive of them.

Juba, who appears to have investigated all these matters with the greatest diligence, has omitted, in his description of these regions—unless, indeed, it be an error in the copying—another place called Berenice and surnamed Panchrysos,5 as also a third surnamed Epidires,6 and remarkable for the peculiarity of its site; for it lies on a long projecting neck of land, at the spot where the Straits at the mouth of the Red Sea separate the coast of Africa from Arabia by a distance of seven miles only: here too is the island of Cytis,7 which also produces the topaz.

Beyond this are forests, in which is Ptolemais,8 built by Philadelphus for the chase of the elephant, and thence called Epitheras,9 situate near Lake Monoleus. This is the same region that has been already mentioned by us in the Second Book,10 and in which, during forty-five days before the summer solstice and for as many after, there is no shadow at the sixth hour, and during the other hours of the day it falls to the south; while at other times it falls to the north; whereas at the Berenice of which we first11 made mention, on the day of the summer solstice the shadow totally disappears at the sixth hour, but no other unusual phænomenon is observed. That place is situate at a distance of six hundred and two miles from Ptolemais, which has thus become the subject of a remarkable theory, and has promoted the exercise of a spirit of the most profound investigation; for it was at this spot that the extent of the earth was first ascertained, it being the fact that Erastosthenes, beginning at this place by the accurate calculation of the length of the shadow, was enabled to determine with exactness the dimensions of the earth.

After passing this place we come to the Azanian12 Sea, a promontory by some writers called Hispalus, Lake Mandalum, and the island of Colocasitis, with many others lying out in the main sea, upon which multitudes of turtles are found. We then come to the town of Suche, the island of Daphnidis,13 and the town of the Adulitæ,14 a place founded by Egyptian runaway slaves. This is the principal mart for the Troglodyte, as also for the people of Æthiopia: it is distant from Ptolemais five days' sail. To this place they bring ivory in large quantities, horns of the rhinoceros, hides of the hippopotamus, tortoise-shell, sphingiæ,15 and slaves. Beyond the Æthiopian Aroteræ are the islands known by the name of Aliæu,16 as also those of Bacchias, Antibacchias, and Stratioton. After passing these, on the coast of Æthiopia, there is a gulf which remains unexplored still; a circumstance the more to be wondered at, seeing that merchants have pursued their investigations to a greater distance than this. We then come to a promontory, upon which there is a spring called Cucios,17 much resorted to by mariners. Beyond it is the Port of Isis, distant ten days' rowing from the town of the Adulitæ: myrrh is brought to this port by the Troglodytæ. The two islands before the harbour are called Pseudepylæ,18 and those in it, the same in number, are known as Pylæ;19 upon one of these there are some stone columns inscribed with unknown characters. Beyond these is the Gulf of Abalites, the island of Diodorus,20 and other desert islands; also, on the mainland, a succession of deserts, and then the town of Gaza, and the promontory and port of Mossylum,21 to the latter of which cinnamon is brought for exportation: it was thus far that Sesostris led22 his army.

Some writers place even beyond this, upon the shore, one town of Ethiopia, called Baricaza. Juba will have it that at the Promontory of Mossylum23 the Atlantic Sea begins, and that with a north-west wind24 we may sail past his native country, the Mauritanias, and arrive at Gades. We ought not on this occasion to curtail any portion of the opinions so expressed by him. He says that after we pass the promontory of the Indians,25 known as Lepteacra, and by others called Drepanum, the distance, in a straight line, beyond the island of Exusta and Malichu, is fifteen hundred miles; from thence to a place called Sceneos two hundred and twenty-five; and from thence to the island of Adanu one hundred and fifty miles; so that the dis- tance to the open sea26 is altogether eighteen hundred and seventy-five miles. All the other writers, however, are of opinion that, in consequence of the intensity of the sun's heat, this sea is not navigable; added to which, commerce is greatly exposed to the depredations of a piratical tribe of Arabians called Ascitæ,27 who dwell upon the islands: placing two inflated skins of oxen beneath a raft of wood, they ply their piratical vocation with the aid of. poisoned arrows. We learn also from the same author that some nations of the Troglodytae have the name of Therothoæ,28 being so called from their skill in hunting. They are remarkable for their swiftness, he says, just as the Ichthyophagi are, who can swim like the animals whose element is the sea. He speaks also of the Bangeni, the Gangoræ, the Chalybes, the Xoxinæ, the Sirechæ, the Daremæ, and the Domazames. Juba states, too, that the inhabitants who dwell on the banks of the Nile from Syene as far as Meroë, are not a people of Æthiopia, but Arabians; and that the city of the Sun, which we have mentioned29 as situate not far from Memphis, in our description of Egypt, was founded by Arabians. There are some writers who take away the further bank of the Nile from Æthiopia,30 and unite it to Africa;31 and they people its sides with tribes attracted thither by its water. We shall leave these matters, however, to the option of each, to form his opinion on them, and shall now proceed to mention the towns on each side32 in the order in which they are given.

1 Or "narrow necks," apparently, from the Greek στηναὶ δειραὶ. If this be the correct reading, they were probably so called from the narrow strait which ran between them.

2 An island called Halonnesus has been already mentioned in B iv. c. 23. None of these islands appear to have been identified.

3 See B. xxxvii. c. 32.

4 This seems to be the meaning, though, literally translated, it would be, "These were the prefects of kings."

5 It obtained this title ofπάνχρυσος, or "all golden," from its vicinity to the gold mines of Jebel Allaki, or Ollaki, from which the ancient Egyptians drew their principal supply of that metal, and in the working of which they employed criminals and prisoners of war.

6 Or ἐπὶ δειρῆς, "upon the neck." It was situate on the western side of the Red Sea, near the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb.

7 Ansart suggests that the modern island of Mehun is here meant. Gosselin is of opinion that Pliny is in error in mentioning two islands in the Red Sea as producing the topaz.

8 Called Theron, as well as Epitheras. It was an emporium on the coast of the Red Sea for the trade with India and Arabia. It was chiefly remarkable for its position in mathematical geography, as, the sun having been observed to be directly over it forty-five days before and after the summer solstice, the place was taken as one of the points for determining the length of a degree of a great circle on the earth's surface.

9 From the Greek ἐπὶ θήρας, "for hunting."

10 In B. ii. c. 75.

11 In the same Chapter.

12 So called from Azania, the adjoining coast of Africa, now known as that of Ajan. It was inhabited by a race of Æthiopians, who were engaged in catching and taming elephants, and supplying the markets of the Red Sea coast with hides and ivory.

13 Now called Seyrman, according to Gosselin.

14 Its name was Adule, being the chief haven of the Adulitæ, of mixed origin, in the Troglodytic region, situate on a bay of the Red Sea, called Aduliticus Sinus. It is generally supposed that the modern Thulla or Zulla, still pronounced Azoole, occupies its site, being situate in lat. 15' 35' N. Ruins are said to exist there. D'Anville, however, in his map of the Red Sea, places Adule at Arkeeko, on the same coast, and considerably to the north of Thulla. According to Cosmas, Adule was about two miles in the interior.

15 Pliny gives a further description of this ape in B. viii. c. 21., and B. x. c. 72. They were much valued by the Roman ladies for pets, and very high prices were given for them.

16 Now called Dahal-Alley, according to Gosselin.

17 Hardouin, from Strabo, suggests that the reading ought to be Co- racios.

18 The "False Gates."

19 The "Gates."

20 D'Anville and Gosselin think that this is the island known as the French Island.

21 Ansart thinks that this promontory is that known as Cape de Meta, and that the port is at the mouth of the little river called Soul or Soal.

22 In his Ethiopian expedition. According to Strabo, he had altars and pillars erected there to record it.

23 Under the impression entertained by the ancients, that the southern progress of the coast of Africa stopped short here, and that it began at this point to trend away gradually to the north-west.

24 Coro. Salmasius seems with justice, notwithstanding the censures of Hardouin, to have found considerable difficulty in this passage. If it is Pliny's meaning that by sea round the south of the Promontory of Mossylum there is a passage to the extreme north-western point of Africa, it is pretty clear that it is not by the aid of a north-west wind that it could be reached. "Euro," "with a south-east wind," has been very properly suggested.

25 By this name he means the Æthiopian Troglodytæ. Of course it would be absurd to attempt any identification of the places here named, as they must clearly have existed only in the imagination of the African geographer.

26 The supposed commencement of the Atlantic, to the west of the Promontory of Mossylum.

27 From the Greek ἀσκὸς, a "bladder," or "inflated skin." It is not improbable that the story as to their mode of navigation is derived only from the fancied origin of their name.

28 Apparently meaning in the Greek the "jackal-hunters," θηροθῶες. For an account of this animal, see B. viii. c. 52, and B. xv. c. 95.

29 Heliopolis, described in B. v. c. 4.

30 Considering it as part of Asia.

31 Conformably with the usage of modem geographers, and, one would almost think, with that of common sense.

32 Of the river Nile.

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 (5 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: