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These Egyptians and Syrians1 whom we have been criticising fill one with amazement. They do not understand [Homer], even when he is describing their own countries, but accuse him of ignorance where, as our argument proves, they are open to the charge themselves. Not to mention a thing is clearly no evidence that a person is not acquainted with it.2 Homer does not tell us of the change in the current of the Euripus, nor of Thermopylæ, nor of many other remarkable things well known to the Greeks; but was he therefore unacquainted with them? He describes to us, although these men, who are obstinately deaf, will not hear: they have themselves to blame.

Our poet applies to rivers the epithet of ‘heaven-sent.’ And this not only to mountain torrents, but to all rivers alike, since they are all replenished by the showers. But even what is general becomes particular when it is bestowed on any object par excellence. Heaven-sent, when applied to a moun- tain torrent, means something else than when it is the epithet of the ever-flowing river; but the force of the term is doubly felt when attributed to the Nile. For as there are hyperboles of hyperboles, for instance, to be ‘lighter than the shadow of a cork,’ ‘more timid than a Phrygian hare,’3‘to possess an estate shorter than a Lacedæmonian epistle;’ so excellence becomes more excellent, when the title of ‘heaven-sent’ is given to the Nile. The mountain torrent has a better claim to be called heaven-sent than other rivers, but the Nile exceeds the mountain torrents, both in its size and the lengthened period of its overflow. Since, then, the wonders of this river were known to our poet, as we have shown in this defence, when he applies this epithet to the Nile, it must only be understood in the way we have explained. Homer did not think it worth mentioning, especially to those who were acquainted with the fact, that the Nile had many mouths, since this is a common feature of numerous other rivers. Alcæus4 does not mention it, although he tells us he had been in Egypt. One might infer the fact of its alluvial deposit, both From the rising [of the river] and what Homer tells us concerning Pharos. For his account, or rather the vulgar report concerning Pharos, that it was distant from the mainland a whole day's voyage, ought not to be looked upon as a down- right falsehood.

It is clear that Homer was only acquainted with the rising and deposit of the river in a general way, and concluding from what he heard that the island had been further removed in the time of Menelaus from the mainland, than it was in his own, he magnified the distance, simply that he might heighten the fiction. Fictions however are not the offspring of ignorance, as is sufficiently plain from those concerning Proteus, the Pygmies, the efficacy of charms, and many others similar to these fabricated by the poets. They narrate these things not through ignorance of the localities, but for the sake of giving pleasure and enjoyment. But [some one may in- quire], how could he describe [Pharos], which is without water as possessed of that necessary?

“ The haven there is good, and many a ship
Finds watering there from rivulets on the coast.5

Odyssey iv. 358.
[I answer,] It is not impossible that the sources of water may since have failed. Besides, he does not say that the water was procured from the island, but that they went thither on account of the safety of the harbour; the water was probably obtained from the mainland, and by the expression the poet seems to admit that what he had before said of its being wholly surrounded by sea was not the actual fact, but a hyperbole or fiction.

1 Namely Crates and Aristarchus. The last was of Alexandria, and consequently an Egyptian. Crates was of Cilicia, which was regarded as a part of Syria.

2 This is a very favourite axiom with Strabo, notwithstanding he too often forgets it himself.

3 The Phrygians were considered to be more timid than any other people, and consequently the hares of their country more timid than those of any other. We see then a twofold hyperbole in the expression that a man is more timid than a Phrygian hare.

4 Alcæus of Mitylene in the island of Lesbos, the earliest of the Æolian lyric poets, began to flourish in the forty-second Olympiad (B. C. 610). In the second year of this Olympiad we find Cicis and Antimenidas, the brothers of Alcæus, fighting under Pittacus against Melanchrus, who is described as the tyrant of Lesbos, and who fell in the conflict. Alcæus does not appear to have taken part with his brothers on this occasion; on the contrary, he speaks of Melanchrus in terms of high praise. Alcæus is mentioned in connexion with the war in Troas, between the Athenians and Mitylenæans, for the possession of Sigæum. During the period which followed this war, the contest between the nobles and the people of Mitylene was brought to a crisis. The party of Alcæus engaged actively on the side of the nobles, and was defeated. When he and his brother Antimenidas perceived that all hope of their restoration to Mitylene was gone, they travelled over different countries. Alcæus visited Egypt, and appears to have written poems in which his adventures by sea were described. Horace, Carm. ii. 13. 26. See Smith's Diet. of Biog. and Mythol.

5 But in it there is a haven with good mooring, from whence they takes equal ships into the sea, having drawn black water. Odyssey iv. 358.

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