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 The circuit of the Great Syrtis is about 3930 stadia,1 its depth to the recess is 1500 stadia, and its breadth at the mouth is also nearly the same. The difficulty of navigating both these and the Lesser Syrtis [arises from the circumstances of] the soundings in many parts being soft mud. It sometimes happens, on the ebbing and flowing of the tide, that vessels are carried upon the shallows, settle down, and are seldom recovered. Sailors therefore, in coasting, keep at a distance (from the shore), and are on their guard, lest they should be caught by a wind unprepared, and driven into these gulfs. Yet the daring disposition of man induces him to attempt everything, and particularly the coasting along a shore. On entering the Great Syrtis on the right, after passing the promontory Cephalæ, is a lake of about 300 stadia in length, and 70 stadia in breadth, which communicates with the gulf, and has at its entrance small islands and an anchorage. After the lake follows a place called Aspis, and a harbour, the best of all in the Syrtis. Near this place is the tower Euphrantas, the boundary between the former territory of Carthage and Cyrenaïca under Ptolemy (Soter). Then another place, called Charax,2 which the Carthaginians frequented as a place of commerce, with cargoes of wine, and loaded in return with silphium and its juice, which they received from merchants who brought it away clandestinely from Cyrene; then the Altars of the Philæni;3 after these Automola, a fortress defended by a garrison, and situated in the recess of the whole gulf. The parallel passing through this recess is more to the south than that passing through Alexandreia by 1000 stadia, and than that passing through Carthage by less than 2000 stadia; but it would coincide with the parallel passing, on one side, through Heroopolis, which is situated in the recess4 of the Arabian Gulf, and passing, on the other, through the interior of the territory of the Masæsylii and the Mauretanians. The rest of the sea-coast, to the city Berenice,5 is 1500 stadia in length. Above this length of coast, and extending to the Altars of the Philæni, are situated an African nation called Nasamones. The intervening distance (between the recess of the Syrtis and Berenice) contains but few harbours, and watering-places are rare. On a promontory called Pseudopenias is situated Berenice, near a lake Tritonis, in which is to be observed a small island with a temple of Venus upon it. There also is a lake of the Hesperides, into which flows a river (called) Lathon. On this side of Berenice is a small promontory called Boreion6 (or North Cape), which with Cephalæ forms the entrance of the Syrtis. Berenice lies opposite to the promontories of Peloponnesus, namely, those called Ichthys7 and [Chelonatas],8 and also to the island Zacynthus,9 at an interval of 3600 stadia. Marcus Cato marched from this city, round the Syrtis, in thirty days, at the head of an army composed of more than 10,000 men, separated into divisions on account of the watering-places; his course lay through deep sand, under burning heat. After Berenice is a city Taucheira,10 called also Arsinoë; then Barca,11 formerly so called, but now Pto- lemaïs; then the promontory Phycus,12 which is low, but ex- tends further to the north than the rest of the African coast: it is opposite to Tænarum,13 in Laconia, at the distance14 of 2800 stadia; on it there is also a small town of the same name as the promontory. Not far from Phycus, at a distance of about 170 stadia, is Apollonias, the naval arsenal of Cyrene; from Berenice it is distant 1000 stadia, and 80 stadia from Cyrene, a considerable city situated on a table-land, as I observed it from the sea.
1 See b. ii. c. v. § 20.
2 Its position, like that of so many places on the Great Syrtis, can hardly be determined with certainty. A full discussion of these localities will be found in Barth's Wanderungen.
3 About the middle of the fourth century, B. c., according to a story in Sallust, these monuments commemorated the patriotic sacrifice of two Philæni, Carthaginian envoys.
4 Gulf of Suez.
5 Ben Ghazi. Berenice previously bore the name Hesperides, which name seems to have been derived from the fancy which found the fabled Gardens of the Hesperides in the fertile terraces of Cyrenaïca.
7 Cape Catacolo.
8 Groskurd justly supposes that the name Chelonatas (Cape Tornese) is here wanting in the text.
11 The name has survived to the present day in that of the district of which it was the capital, the province of Barca, in the regency of Tripoli. The position of Barca is accurately described by Scylax, who places its harbour 500 stadia from Cyrene, and 620 from Hesperides, and the city itself 100 stadia from the sea. It stood on the summit of the terraces which overlook the west coast of the Greater Syrtis, in a plain now called El-Merjeh; and the same name is often given to the ruins which mark the site of Barca, but the Arabs call them El-Medinah. See Smith, art. Barca.
12 Ras-al-Razat or Ras Sem. Scylax here placed the gardens and lake of the Hesperides.
13 Cape Matapan, which is more than a degree and a half more to the east than Phycus.
14 In b. viii. c. v. § 1, it is stated to be 3000.
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