Welcome
   Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Authors
Works by Herodotus
Pages of Euterpe



Previous | Next
                  

Euterpe   


the south wind and of the noon-day, while, on the other hand, the
station of the south wind became that of the north, the consequence
would be that the sun, driven from the mid-heaven by the winter and
the northern gales, would betake himself to the upper parts of Europe,
as he now does to those of Libya, and then I believe his passage
across Europe would affect the Ister exactly as the Nile is affected
at the present day.
And with respect to the fact that no breeze blows from the Nile, I
am of opinion that no wind is likely to arise in very hot countries,
for breezes love to blow from some cold quarter.
Let us leave these things, however, to their natural course, to
continue as they are and have been from the beginning. With regard
to the sources of the Nile, I have found no one among all those with
whom I have conversed, whether Egyptians, Libyans, or Greeks, who
professed to have any knowledge, except a single person. He was the
scribe who kept the register of the sacred treasures of Minerva in the
city of Sais, and he did not seem to me to be in earnest when he
said that he knew them perfectly well. His story was as follows:-
"Between Syene, a city of the Thebais, and Elephantine, there are" (he
said) "two hills with sharp conical tops; the name of the one is
Crophi, of the other, Mophi. Midway between them are the fountains
of the Nile, fountains which it is impossible to fathom. Half the
water runs northward into Egypt, half to the south towards
Ethiopia." The fountains were known to be unfathomable, he declared,
because Psammetichus, an Egyptian king, had made trial of them. He had
caused a rope to be made, many thousand fathoms in length, and had
sounded the fountain with it, but could find no bottom. By this the
scribe gave me to understand, if there was any truth at all in what he
said, that in this fountain there are certain strong eddies, and a
regurgitation, owing to the force wherewith the water dashes against
the mountains, and hence a Sounding-line cannot be got to reach the
bottom of the spring.
No other information on this head could I obtain from any quarter.
All that I succeeded in learning further of the more distant
portions of the Nile, by ascending myself as high as Elephantine and
making inquiries concerning the parts beyond, was the following:- As
one advances beyond Elephantine, the land rises. Hence it is necessary
in this part of the river to attach a rope to the boat on each side,
as men harness an ox, and so proceed on the journey. If the rope
snaps, the vessel is borne away down stream by the force of the
current. The navigation continues the same for four days, the river
winding greatly, like the Maeander, and the distance traversed
amounting to twelve schoenes. Here you come upon a smooth and level
plain, where the Nile flows in two branches, round an island called
Tachompso. The country above Elephantine is inhabited by the
Ethiopians, who possess one-half of this island, the Egyptians
occupying the other. Above the island there is a great lake, the
shores of which are inhabited by Ethiopian nomads; after passing it,
you come again to the stream of the Nile, which runs into the lake.
Here you land, and travel for forty days along the banks of the river,
since it is impossible to proceed further in a boat on account of
the sharp peaks which jut out from the water, and the sunken rocks
which abound in that part of the stream. When you have passed this
portion of the river in the space of forty days, you go on board
another boat and proceed by water for twelve days more, at the end
of which time you reach a great city called Meroe, which is said to be
the capital of the other Ethiopians. The only gods worshipped by the
inhabitants are Jupiter and Bacchus, to whom great honours are paid.
There is an oracle of Jupiter in the city, which directs the warlike
expeditions of the Ethiopians; when it commands they go to war, and in
whatever direction it bids them march, thither straightway they
carry their arms.
On leaving this city, and again mounting the stream, in the same
space of time which it took you to reach the capital from Elephantine,

Previous | Next
Site Search