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Euterpe   


you come to the Deserters, who bear the name of Asmach. This word,
translated into our language, means "the men who stand on the left
hand of the king." These Deserters are Egyptians of the warrior caste,
who, to the number of two hundred and forty thousand, went over to the
Ethiopians in the reign of king Psammetichus. The cause of their
desertion was the following:- Three garrisons were maintained in Egypt
at that time, one in the city of Elephantine against the Ethiopians,
another in the Pelusiac Daphnae, against the Syrians and Arabians, and
a third, against the Libyans, in Marea. (The very same posts are to
this day occupied by the Persians, whose forces are in garrison both
in Daphnae and in Elephantine.) Now it happened, that on one
occasion the garrisons were not relieved during the space of three
years; the soldiers, therefore, at the end of that time, consulted
together, and having determined by common consent to revolt, marched
away towards Ethiopia. Psammetichus, informed of the movement, set out
in pursuit, and coming up with them, besought them with many words not
to desert the gods of their country, nor abandon their wives and
children. "Nay, but," said one of the deserters with an unseemly
gesture, "wherever we go, we are sure enough of finding wives and
children." Arrived in Ethiopia, they placed themselves at the disposal
of the king. In return, he made them a present of a tract of land
which belonged to certain Ethiopians with whom he was at feud, bidding
them expel the inhabitants and take possession of their territory.
From the time that this settlement was formed, their acquaintance with
Egyptian manners has tended to civilise the Ethiopians.
Thus the course of the Nile is known, not only throughout Egypt,
but to the extent of four months' journey either by land or water
above the Egyptian boundary; for on calculation it will be found
that it takes that length of time to travel from Elephantine to the
country of the Deserters. There the direction of the river is from
west to east. Beyond, no one has any certain knowledge of its
course, since the country is uninhabited by reason of the excessive
heat.
I did hear, indeed, what I will now relate, from certain natives
of Cyrene. Once upon a time, they said, they were on a visit to the
oracular shrine of Ammon, when it chanced that in the course of
conversation with Etearchus, the Ammonian king, the talk fell upon the
Nile, how that its sources were unknown to all men. Etearchus upon
this mentioned that some Nasamonians had once come to his court, and
when asked if they could give any information concerning the
uninhabited parts of Libya, had told the following tale. (The
Nasamonians are a Libyan race who occupy the Syrtis, and a tract of no
great size towards the east.) They said there had grown up among
them some wild young men, the sons of certain chiefs, who, when they
came to man's estate, indulged in all manner of extravagancies, and
among other things drew lots for five of their number to go and
explore the desert parts of Libya, and try if they could not penetrate
further than any had done previously. The coast of Libya along the sea
which washes it to the north, throughout its entire length from
Egypt to Cape Soloeis, which is its furthest point, is inhabited by
Libyans of many distinct tribes who possess the whole tract except
certain portions which belong to the Phoenicians and the Greeks. Above
the coast-line and the country inhabited by the maritime tribes, Libya
is full of wild beasts; while beyond the wild beast region there is
a tract which is wholly sand, very scant of water, and utterly and
entirely a desert. The young men therefore, despatched on this
errand by their comrades with a plentiful supply of water and
provisions, travelled at first through the inhabited region, passing
which they came to the wild beast tract, whence they finally entered
upon the desert, which they proceeded to cross in a direction from
east to west. After journeying for many days over a wide extent of
sand, they came at last to a plain where they observed trees
growing; approaching them, and seeing fruit on them, they proceeded to
gather it. While they were thus engaged, there came upon them some

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