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He decided to found a great city in Egypt, and gave orders to the men left behind with this mission to build the city between the marsh and the sea.1 [2] He laid out the site and traced the streets skilfully and ordered that the city should be called after him Alexandria. It was conveniently situated near the harbour of Pharos, and by selecting the right angle of the streets, Alexander made the city breathe with the etesian winds2 so that as these blow across a great expanse of sea, they cool the air of the town, and so he provided its inhabitants with a moderate climate and good health. [3] Alexander also laid out the walls so that they were at once exceedingly large and marvellously strong. Lying between a great marsh and the sea, it affords by land only two approaches, both narrow and very easily blocked.

In shape, it is similar to a chlamys, and it is approximately bisected by an avenue remarkable for its size and beauty. From gate to gate it runs a distance of forty furlongs3; it is a plethron4 in width, and is bordered throughout its length with rich facades of houses and temples. [4] Alexander gave orders to build a palace notable for its size and massiveness. And not only Alexander, but those who after him ruled Egypt down to our own time, with few exceptions have enlarged this with lavish additions. [5] The city in general has grown so much in later times that many reckon it to be the first city of the civilized world, and it is certainly far ahead of all the rest in elegance and extent and riches and luxury. [6] The number of its inhabitants surpasses that of those in other cities. At the time when we were in Egypt, those who kept the census returns of the population said that its free residents were more than three hundred thousand,5 and that the king received from the revenues of the country more than six thousand talents. [7]

However that may be, King Alexander charged certain of his Friends with the construction of Alexandria, settled all the affairs of Egypt, and returned with his army to Syria.6

1 Curtius 4.8.1-6; Justin 11.11.13; Plut. Alexander 26.2-6; Arrian. 3.1.5-2.2. Diodorus, Curtius, and Justin follow the tradition of Aristobulus (Arrian. 3.4.5) in placing the foundation of Alexandria after Alexander's visit to Siwah; Plutarch and Arrian follow Ptolemy in locating it before the visit. The marsh is Lake Mareotis.

2 The north-western winds of summer. This description of Alexandria is based on Diodorus's own observation, and is lacking in the other Alexander histories.

3 The contemporary description of Strabo (Strabo 17.1.7-10 says thirty furlongs. The ancient circuit of the walls has not been traced.

4 One hundred feet.

5 A papyrus of later date has been interpreted as stating that the citizens of Alexandria numbered 180,000, but this is very uncertain (H. A. Musurillo, The Acts of the Pagan Martyrs, 1954, no. III, col. i. 15).

6 Further details are given by Curtius 4.8.4-9; Arrian. 3.5.2-7. Alexander reached Thapsacus in the Attic month Hecatombaeon (Arrian. 3.7.1; about July/August 331; see below, 55.6, note).

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