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[4]

But the Pyramus, a navigable river with its sources in the middle of the plain, flows through Cataonia. There is a notable pit in the earth through which one can see the water as it runs into a long hidden passage underground and then rises to the surface. If one lets down a javelin from above into the pit,1 the force of the water resists so strongly that the javelin can hardly be immersed in it. But although it flows in great volume because of its immense depth and breadth, yet, when it reaches the Taurus, it undergoes a remarkable contraction; and remarkable also is the cleft of the mountain through which the stream is carried; for, as in the case of rocks which have been broken and split into two parts, the projections on either side correspond so exactly to the cavities on the other that they could be fitted together, so it was in the case of the rocks I saw there, which, lying above the river on either side and reaching up to the summit of the mountain at a distance of two or three plethra from each other, had cavities corresponding with the opposite projections. The whole intervening bed is rock, and it has a cleft through the middle which is deep and so extremely narrow that a dog or hare could leap across it. This cleft is the channel of the river, is full to the brim, and in breadth resembles a canal; but on account of the crookedness of its course and its great contraction in width and the depth of the gorge, a noise like thunder strikes the ears of travellers long before they reach it. In passing out through the mountains it brings down so much silt to the sea, partly from Cataonia and partly from the Cilician plains, that even an oracle is reported as having been given out in reference to it, as follows: “Men that are yet to be shall experience this at the time when the Pyramus of the silver eddies shall silt up its sacred sea-beach and come to Cyprus.
2 Indeed, something similar to this takes place also in Egypt, since the Nile is always turning the sea into dry land by throwing out silt. Accordingly, Herodotus3 calls Egypt "the gift of the Nile," while Homer4 speaks of Pharos as "being out in the open sea," since in earlier times it was not, as now, connected with the mainland of Egypt.5

1 At the outlet, of course.

2 Cf. quotation of the same oracle in 1. 3. 7.

3 2. 5.

4 Hom. Od. 4.354.

5 i.e., "has become, in a sense, a peninsula" (1. 3. 17).

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