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Πτολεμαΐς Ptol. 4.5.57), a small town of the Arsinoite nome in Middle Aegypt. It was situated between Heracleopolis Magna and Arsinoë, near the point of junction between the Bahr Jusef and the Nile. The modern village of El-Lahum occupies a portion of the site of the Arsinoite Ptolemais.


PTOLEMAIS THERON (Πτολεμαῒς Θηρῶν, Ptol. 18.1, 4.7.7, 8.16. §. 10; Πτολεμαΐς, Strab. xvii. pp. 768--76 ; Agatharch. ap. Phot. pp. 457--459, ed. Bekker; Ptolemais Epitheras, Plin. Nat. 6.29. s. 34), was originally an Aethiopian village situated on the southern skirts of the forest which extended from the S. side of the Troglodytic Berenice to lat. 17° N. Its convenient situation on the coast of the Red Sea and in the heart of the region where elephants abounded induced Ptolemy Philadelphus (B.C. 282--246) to occupy, enlarge, and fortify the village, which thenceforward was named Ptolemais after its second founder. Philadelphus, indeed, before he colonised this outpost of his kingdom, used every effort to persuade the Aethiopian hunters [ELEPHANTOPHAGI] to abstain from the flesh of these animals, or to reserve a portion at least of them for the royal stables. But they rejected his offers, replying that for the kingdom of Aegypt they would not forego the pleasure of hunting and eating elephants. Hitherto the Aegyptians had imported these animals from Asia, the Asiatic breed being stronger and larger than the African. But the supply was precarious: the cost of importation was great; and the Aethiopian forests afforded an ample supply both for war and the royal household. As the depot of the elephant trade, including that also in hides and ivory, Ptolemais attained a high degree of prosperity, and ranked among the principal cities of Aethiopia. From its market it is probable that Carthage also derived its supply of elephants, since about the period of Philadelphus' reign the Carthaginians employed these animals more frequently in war. (Liv. xvii. Epit.; Florus, 2.2.28.) Ptolemais had, properly speaking, no harbour, and the Aegyptian vessels were compelled to run up to Berenice whenever the N. or E. winds prevailed: in the present day the Red Sea coast at this point is approachable only by boats. The roadstead of Ptolemais, however, was partially sheltered from the E. winds by an island covered with olive-trees. In its [p. 2.678]neighbourhood the freshwater lake Monoleus afforded it a good supply of water and fish. The shell of the true land-tortoise was found at Ptolemais: it is described by Agatharchides (ap. Geogr. Minor. p. 40, Hudson; Peripl. Mar. Erythr. p. 17) as covered with small lozenge-shaped plates, of the whiteness of the pearl-oyster. To ancient geographers the position of Ptolemais was of great importance, being one of the points from which their computations of latitude were made. Modern geographers, however, are not agreed as to the degree in which it should be placed, some identifying it with Bas-Assiz, opposite the island of Wellesley, while others (Vincent, Voyage of Nearchus, vol. ii. p. 92) prefer a more southerly site, near the port of Mirza-Mombarrik. (Comp. Manner, vol. 10.1. p. 48, seq.)


Πτολεμαῒς Ἑρμείου Ptol. 1.15.11, 4.5.56; Πτολεμαϊκὴ πόλις, Strab. xvii. p.813), a city of Upper Aegypt, NW. of Abydus, and situated on the western side of the Nile. It can hardly be regarded, however, as an Aegyptian city, its population and civil institutions being almost exclusively Greek, and its importance derived entirely from the favour of the Ptolemies. The ruins of Ptolemais Hermîi are supposed to be at the modern hamlet of Mensieh. (Champollion, l'Egypte, vol. i. p. 253, seq.) [W.B.D]

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