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Eratosthenes, when he is speaking of the lakes near Arabia, says, that the water, when it cannot find an outlet, opens passages underground, and is conveyed through these as far as the Cœle-Syrians,1 it is also compressed and forced into the parts near Rhinocolura2 and Mount Casius,3 and there forms lakes and deep pits.4 But I know not whether this is probable. For the overflowings of the water of the Euphrates, which form the lakes and marshes near Arabia, are near the Persian Sea. But the isthmus which separates them is neither large nor rocky, so that it was more probable that the water forced its way in this direction into the sea, either under the ground, or across the surface, than that it traversed so dry and parched a soil for more than 6000 stadia; particularly, when we observe, situated mid-way in this course, Libanus, Antilibanus, and Mount Casius.5

Such, then, are the accounts of Eratosthenes and Aristobulus.

1 The name Cœle-Syria, or Hollow Syria, which was properly applied to the district between Libanus and Antilibanus, was extended also to that part of Syria which borders upon Egypt and Arabia; and it is in this latter sense that Strabo here speaks of Cœle-Syria. So also Diodorus Siculus, i. § 30, speaks of ‘Joppa in Cœle-Syria;’ and Polybius, v. 80, § 2, of ‘Rhinocolura, the first of the cities in Cœle-Syria;’ and Josephus, Ant. Jud. xiii. 13, § 2, ‘of Scythopolis of Cœle-Syria.’

2 El-Arish.

3 El-Kas near Sebakit-Bardoil, the ancient lake Serbonis.

4 Barathra.

5 Strabo has misunderstood the meaning of Eratosthenes, who had said that the excess of the waters of the Euphrates sunk into the ground and reappeared under the form of torrents, which became visible near ‘Rhinocolura in Cœle-Syria and Mt. Casius,’ the Casius near Egypt. Our author properly observes that the length and nature of the course contradicts this hypothesis: but, misled by the names Cœle-Syria and Casius, he forgets that the Casius of Egypt and the district bordering upon Egypt, improperly called Cœle-Syria, are here in question; he transfers the first name to Cœle-Syria of Libanus, and the second to Mt. Casius near Seleucia and Antioch, and adds that, according to the notion of Eratosthenes, the waters of the Euphrates would have to traverse Libanus, Antilibanus, and the Casius (of Syria), whilst Eratosthenes has not, and could not, say any such thing. The hypothesis of Eratosthenes could not, indeed, be maintained, but Strabo renders it absurd. The error of our author is the more remarkable, as the name of the city Rhinocolura ought necessarily to have suggested to him the sense in which the words Casius and Cœle Syria should be understood.

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