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 He says, that the Nile is distant from the Arabian Gulf towards the west 1000 stadia, and that it resembles (in its course) the letter N reversed. For after flowing, he says, about 2700 stadia from Meroë towards the north, it turns again to the south, and to the winter sunset, continuing its course for about 3700 stadia, when it is almost in the latitude of the places about Meroë. Then entering far into Africa, and having made another bend, it flows towards the north, a distance of 5300 stadia, to the great cataract;1 and inclining a little to the east, traverses a distance of 1200 stadia to the smaller cataract at Syene,2 and 5300 stadia more to the sea.3 Two rivers empty themselves into it, which issue out of some lakes towards the east, and encircle Meroë, a consider- able island.4 One of these rivers is called Astaboras,5 flowing along the eastern side of the island. The other is the Astapus, or, as some call it, Astasobas. But the Astapus6 is said to be another river, which issues out of some lakes on the south, and that this river forms nearly the body of the (stream of the) Nile, which flows in a straight line, and that it is filled by the summer rains; that above the confluence of the Astaboras and the Nile, at the distance of 700 stadia, is Meroë, a city having the same name as the island; and that there is another island above Meroë, occupied by the fugitive Egyptians, who revolted in the time of Psammitichus,7 and are called Sembritæ, or foreigners. Their sovereign is a queen, but they obey the king of Meroë. The lower parts of the country on each side Meroë, along the Nile towards the Red Sea, are occupied by Megabari and Blemmyes, who are subject to the Ethiopians, and border upon the Egyptians; about the sea are Troglodytæ. The Troglodytæ, in the latitude of Meroë, are distant ten or twelve days' journey from the Nile. On the left of the course of the Nile live Nubæ in Libya, a populous nation. They begin from Meroë, and extend as far as the bends (of the river). They are not subject to the Ethiopians, but live independently, being distributed into several sovereignties. The extent of Egypt along the sea, from the Pelusiac to the Canobic mouth, is 1300 stadia. Such is the account of Eratosthenes.
3 Thus Eratosthenes calculated, in following the windings of the Nile, 12,900 stadia, which is 7900 stadia more than he calculated in a straight line, as he made the distance between the same points (Meroë and Syene, i. ii. c. v. § 7) to be 5000 stadia. M. Falconer suspects that there is an error in the text; but the error lies further off. I believe that it is attributable to Eratosthenes himself, and that that geographer did nothing more than convert the days' marches into stadia. According to Pliny, Timosthenes, commander of the fleet of Ptolemy Philadelphus, and consequently anterior to Eratosthenes, said that from Syene to Meroë was a march of 60 days ; and this statement agrees tolerably well with that of Herodotus, who calculated 56 days' march between Elephantina and Meroë, besides a small distance the extent of which he does not state. Procopius, a learned writer, estimates a day's march at 210 stadia; and the employment of this value, in the whole course of his history, proves that it was generally adopted. Now, if we multiply 60 by 210, we shall have 12,600 stadia, and dividing 12,900 by 60, we have 215 stadia, or nearly the amount of a day's march according to Procopius. I am therefore of opinion that Eratosthenes did nothing more than multiply 210 or 215 by the number of 60 days, furnished by Timosthenes ; and as the excessive length of 12,900 stadia could not agree with the 5000 stadia, which he had calculated in a straight line for the same interval, he imagined this great difference arose from the excessive winding course of the Nile; consequently he supposed the Nile to change frequently the direction of its course.This opinion had its influence in the construction of Ptolemy's map, which presents to us nearly all the inflexions which Eratosthenes imagined; in calculating the intervals of positions assigned by Ptolemy along the river, we find a total of 1260 minutes; and adding about 1/6 for the small windings, we have a total of 1470 minutes, which are equal to 12,400 stadia of the module (700 to the degree) adopted by that geographer. According to this hypothesis, the distance in Strabo will be thus divided: Setting out from Meroë, the Nile runs,
|1. 2700 stadia to the north||12ċ8|
|2. 3700 to the S. and S. W.||17ċ6|
|3. 5300 to the N. 1/4 E.||25|
|4. 1200 to the N.||5ċ7|
|From the middle of Syene to Luxor in the ancient territory of Thebes||218,900|
|From Luxor to Becous situated at the point of the Delta||727,500|
|From Becous following the Damietta branch to that city||234,000|
4 Although generally described as an island, it was, like Mesopotamia, a district included between rivers: the city Meroë was situated in lat. 16° 44.
6 Bahr-el-Azrek, or Blue river.
7 See b. xvi. c. iv. § 8, and Herod. ii. 30, who calls the Sembritæ, Automoloi, that is, persons who had voluntarily quitted their abode.
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