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 To what has been said concerning Egypt, we must add these peculiar products; for instance, the Egyptian bean, as it is called, from which is obtained the ciborium,1 and the papyrus, for it is found here and in India only; the persea (peach) grows here only, and in Ethiopia; it is a lofty tree, and its fruit is large and sweet; the sycamine, which produces the fruit called the sycomorus, or fig-mulberry, for it resembles a fig, but its flavour is not esteemed. The corsium also (the root of the Egyptian lotus) grows there, a condiment like pepper, but a little larger. There are in the Nile fish in great quantity and of different kinds, having a peculiar and indigenous character. The best known are the oxyrynchus,2 and the lepidotus,3 the latus,4 the alabes,5 the coracinus,6 the chœrus, the phagrorius, called also the phagrus. Besides these are the silurus, the citharus,7 the thrissa,8 the cestreus,9 the lychnus, the physa, the bous (or ox), and large shell-fish which emit a sound like that of wailing The animals peculiar to the country are the ichneumon and the Egyptian asp, having some properties which those in other places do not possess. There are two kinds, one a span in length, whose bite is more suddenly mortal than that of the other; the second is nearly an orguia10 in size, according to Nicander. the author of the Theriaca. Among the birds, are the ibis and the Egyptian hawk, which, like the cat, is more tame than those elsewhere. The nycticorax is here peculiar in its character; for with us it is as large as an eagle, and its cry is harsh; but in Egypt it is the size of a jay, and has a different note. The tamest animal, however, is the ibis; it resembles a stork in shape and size. There are two kinds, which differ in colour; one is like a stork, the other is entirely black. Every street in Alexandreia is full of them. In some respects they are useful; in others troublesome. They are useful, because they pick up all sorts of small animals and the offal thrown out of the butchers' and cooks' shops. They are troublesome, because they devour everything, are dirty, and with difficulty prevented from polluting in every way what is clean and what is not given to them.
1 Above, c. i. § 15.
2 The sturgeon.
3 Cyprinus bynni.
4 Perea Nilotica. Cuvier, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons, xii. 5.
5 Silurus anguillaris. Linn.
6 Pliny, xxxii. 5. Coracini pisces Nilo quidem peculiares sunt. Athenæus, b. vii. c. 83, p. 484. Bohn's Classical Library.
7 Called by the Arabs gamor-el-Lelleh, or star of the night. Cuvier.
8 The shad.
9 The mullet.
10 About six feet. Nicander is the author of two Greek poems that are still extant, and of several others that have been lost. He may be supposed to have been in reputation for about fifty years, cir. B. C. 185—135. The longest of his poems that remains is named Theriaca. It treats (as the name implies) of venomous animals, and the wounds inflicted by them, and contains some curious and interesting zoological passages, together with numerous absurd fables. The other treats of poisons and their antidotes. His works are only consulted by those who are interested in points of zoological and medical antiquities. He is frequently quoted by Athenæus. See Smith's Dict. of Greek and Roman Biography, art. Nicander.
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