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Euterpe   


marshes the inhabitants pass the night upon lofty towers, which are of
great service, as the gnats are unable to fly to any height on account
of the winds. In the marsh-country, where there are no towers, each
man possesses a net instead. By day it serves him to catch fish, while
at night he spreads it over the bed in which he is to rest, and
creeping in, goes to sleep underneath. The gnats, which, if he rolls
himself up in his dress or in a piece of muslin, are sure to bite
through the covering, do not so much as attempt to pass the net.
The vessels used in Egypt for the transport of merchandise are
made of the Acantha (Thorn), a tree which in its growth is very like
the Cyrenaic lotus, and from which there exudes a gum. They cut a
quantity of planks about two cubits in length from this tree, and then
proceed to their ship-building, arranging the planks like bricks,
and attaching them by ties to a number of long stakes or poles till
the hull is complete, when they lay the cross-planks on the top from
side to side. They give the boats no ribs, but caulk the seams with
papyrus on the inside. Each has a single rudder, which is driven
straight through the keel. The mast is a piece of acantha-wood, and
the sails are made of papyrus. These boats cannot make way against the
current unless there is a brisk breeze; they are, therefore, towed
up-stream from the shore: down-stream they are managed as follows.
There is a raft belonging to each, made of the wood of the tamarisk,
fastened together with a wattling of reeds; and also a stone bored
through the middle about two talents in weight. The raft is fastened
to the vessel by a rope, and allowed to float down the stream in
front, while the stone is attached by another rope astern. The
result is that the raft, hurried forward by the current, goes
rapidly down the river, and drags the "baris" (for so they call this
sort of boat) after it; while the stone, which is pulled along in
the wake of the vessel, and lies deep in the water, keeps the boat
straight. There are a vast number of these vessels in Egypt, and
some of them are of many thousand talents' burthen.
When the Nile overflows, the country is converted into a sea,
and nothing appears but the cities, which look like the islands in the
Egean. At this season boats no longer keep the course of the river,
but sail right across the plain. On the voyage from Naucratis to
Memphis at this season, you pass close to the pyramids, whereas the
usual course is by the apex of the Delta, and the city of
Cercasorus. You can sail also from the maritime town of Canobus across
the flat to Naucratis, passing by the cities of Anthylla and
Archandropolis.
The former of these cities, which is a place of note, is
assigned expressly to the wife of the ruler of Egypt for the time
being, to keep her in shoes. Such has been the custom ever since Egypt
fell under the Persian yoke. The other city seems to me to have got
its name of Archandropolis from Archander the Phthian, son of Achaeus,
and son-in-law of Danaus. There might certainly have been another
Archander; but, at any rate, the name is not Egyptian.
Thus far I have spoken of Egypt from my own observation,
relating what I myself saw, the ideas that I formed, and the results
of my own researches. What follows rests on the accounts given me by
the Egyptians, which shall now repeat, adding thereto some particulars
which fell under by own notice.
The priests said that Min was the first king of Egypt, and that it
was he who raised the dyke which protects Memphis from the inundations
of the Nile. Before his time the river flowed entirely along the sandy
range of hills which skirts Egypt on the side of Libya. He, however,
by banking up the river at the bend which it forms about a hundred
furlongs south of Memphis, laid the ancient channel dry, while he
dug a new course for the stream halfway between the two lines of
hills. To this day, the elbow which the Nile forms at the point
where it is forced aside into the new channel is guarded with the
greatest care by the Persians, and strengthened every year; for if the
river were to burst out at this place, and pour over the mound,

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