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which the whole of Egypt is intersected. By these forced labours the
entire face of the country was changed; for whereas Egypt had formerly
been a region suited both for horses and carriages, henceforth it
became entirely unfit for either. Though a flat country throughout its
whole extent, it is now unfit for either horse or carriage, being
cut up by the canals, which are extremely numerous and run in all
directions. The king's object was to supply Nile water to the
inhabitants of the towns situated in the mid-country, and not lying
upon the river; for previously they had been obliged, after the
subsidence of the floods, to drink a brackish water which they
obtained from wells.
Sesostris also, they declared, made a division of the soil of
Egypt among the inhabitants, assigning square plots of ground of equal
size to all, and obtaining his chief revenue from the rent which the
holders were required to pay him year by year. If the river carried
away any portion of a man's lot, he appeared before the king, and
related what had happened; upon which the king sent persons to
examine, and determine by measurement the exact extent of the loss;
and thenceforth only such a rent was demanded of him as was
proportionate to the reduced size of his land. From this practice, I
think, geometry first came to be known in Egypt, whence it passed into
Greece. The sun-dial, however, and the gnomon with the division of the
day into twelve parts, were received by the Greeks from the
Sesostris was king not only of Egypt, but also of Ethiopia. He was
the only Egyptian monarch who ever ruled over the latter country. He
left, as memorials of his reign, the stone statues which stand in
front of the temple of Vulcan, two of which, representing himself
and his wife, are thirty cubits in height, while the remaining four,
which represent his sons, are twenty cubits. These are the statues, in
front of which the priest of Vulcan, very many years afterwards, would
not allow Darius the Persian to place a statue of himself;
"because," he said, "Darius had not equalled the achievements of
Sesostris the Egyptian: for while Sesostris had subdued to the full as
many nations as ever Darius had brought under, he had likewise
conquered the Scythians, whom Darius had failed to master. It was
not fair, therefore, that he should erect his statue in front of the
offerings of a king, whose deeds he had been unable to surpass."
Darius, they say, pardoned the freedom of this speech.
On the death of Sesostris, his son Pheron, the priests said,
mounted the throne. He undertook no warlike expeditions; being
struck with blindness, owing to the following circumstance. The
river had swollen to the unusual height of eighteen cubits, and had
overflowed all the fields, when, a sudden wind arising, the water rose
in great waves. Then the king, in a spirit of impious violence, seized
his spear, and hurled it into the strong eddies of the stream.
Instantly he was smitten with disease of the eyes, from which after
a little while he became blind, continuing without the power of vision
for ten years. At last, in the eleventh year, an oracular announcement
reached him from the city of Buto, to the effect, that "the time of
his punishment had run out, and he should recover his sight by washing
his eyes with urine. He must find a woman who had been faithful to her
husband, and had never preferred to him another man." The king,
therefore, first of all made trial of his wife, but to no purpose he
continued as blind as before. So he made the experiment with other
women, until at length he succeeded, and in this way recovered his
sight. Hereupon he assembled all the women, except the last, and
bringing them to the city which now bears the name of Erythrabolus
(Red-soil), he there burnt them all, together with the place itself.
The woman to whom he owed his cure, he married, and after his recovery
was complete, he presented offerings to all the temples of any note,
among which the best worthy of mention are the two stone obelisks
which he gave to the temple of the Sun. These are magnificent works;
each is made of a single stone, eight cubits broad, and a hundred

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