“And they put on board the ship sixty thousand measures of corn, and ten thousand jars of Sicilian salt-fish, and twenty thousand talents weight of wool, and of other cargo twenty thousand talents weight also. And besides all this, there were the provisions necessary for the crew. And Hiero, when he had understood that there was no harbour in Sicily large enough to admit this ship, and, moreover, that some of the harbours were dangerous for any vessel, determined to [p. 333] send it as a present to Alexandria to Ptolemy the king of Egypt. For there was a great dearth of corn in Egypt. And he did so; and the ship came to Alexandria, where it was put in port. And Hiero honoured Archimelus, also, the epigrammatic poet, who wrote an epigram on the ship, with a thousand bushels of wheat, which he also sent at his own expense to the Piræus; and the epigram runs thus—
Who placed this monstrous mass upon the earth;And I intentionally pass over the sacred trireme built by Antigonus, which defeated the commanders of Ptolemy off Leucolla, a city under the dominion of Cos; and after that, Antigonus consecrated it to Apollo; but it was not one-third, or perhaps not even one-fourth part of the size of the Syracusan or Alexandrian vessel.”
What master led it with untiring cables,
How was the deck nail'd to the mighty beams,
And with what axe did men the vessel form?
Surely it equals Aetna in its height,
Or any isle which rises from the sea
Where the Egean wave entwined foams
Amid the Cyclades; on either side
Its breadth is equal, and its walls alike.
Sure 'twas the giants' work, who hoped to reach
By such vast ladder to the heights of heaven.
Its topmast reaches to the stars; and hides
Its mighty bulwarks 'mid the endless clouds.
It holds its anchors with untiring cables,
Like those with which proud Xerxes bound the strait
Which between Sestos and Abydos foams.
A deftly carved inscription on the side
Shows what strong hand has launch'd it on the deep;
It says that Hiero, Hierocles' son,
The king of Sicily, pride of Dorian race,
Sends it a wealthy messenger of gifts
To the Aegean islands; and the God
Who rules the sea, great Neptune, convoys it
Safe o'er the blue and foaming waves to Greece.