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But since we have mentioned the subject of the building of ships, let us speak (for it is worth hearing of) of the ships which were built also by Ptolemy Philopator, which are mentioned by the same Callixenus in the first book of his Account of Alexandria, where he speaks as follows:—"Philopator built a ship with forty ranks of rowers, being two hundred and eighty cubits long and thirty-eight cubits from one side to the other; and in height up to the gunwale it was forty-eight cubits; and from the highest part of the stern to the water-line was fifty-three cubits; and it had four rudders, [p. 325] each thirty cubits long; and oars for the thranitæ, the largest thirty-eight cubits in length, which, from having lead in their handles, and because they were very heavy it the part inside the ship, being accurately balanced, were, in spite of their bulk, very handy to use. And the ship had two heads and two sterns, and seven beaks, one of which was longer than all the rest, and the others were of smaller size; and some of them were fixed to the ears of the ship; and it had twelve undergirths to support the keel, and each was six hundred cubits in length. And it was well proportioned to a most extraordinary degree; and all the appointments of the vessel were admirable, for it had figures of animals on it not less than twelve cubits in size, both at the head and at the stern, and every part of it was inlaid and ornamented with figures in wax; and the space between the oars down to the very keel had a running pattern of ivy-leaves and thyrsi; and there was great store of every kind of equipment to supply all parts of the ship that might require any.1 And when it put to sea it held more than four thousand rowers, and four hundred supernumeraries; and on the deck were three thousand marines, or at least two thousand eight hundred and fifty. And besides all these there was another large body of men under the decks, and a vast quantity of provisions and supplies. And the vessel was launched originally from a sort of framework, which they say was erected and made out of the wood of fifty ships of five ranks of oars; and it was launched by the multitude with great acclamations and blowing of trumpets. But after that a Phœnician devised a new method of launching it, having dug a trench under it, equal to the ship itself in length, which he dug close to the harbour. And in the trench he built props of solid stone five cubits deep, and across them he laid beams crosswise, running the whole width of the trench, at four cubits' distance from one another; and then making a channel from the sea he filled all the space which he had excavated with water, out of which he easily brought the ship by the aid of whatever men happened to be at hand; then closing the entrance which had been originally made, he drained the water off again by means of engines; and when this had been done the vessel rested securely on the before-mentioned cross-beams. [p. 326]
1 There is great uncertainty as to the meaning of this passage; some commentators consider that there is some corruption in the text.
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