The Library of History

Page 16

Page 16 The River Nile parting it self into several Channels in Egypt, makes that part call'd Delta, so call'd from the shape resembling that Greek Letter. The Two Sides of this Delta are fashion'd by the Two extream Branches of the River; the Foot of this Letter is the Sea, where the Seven Mouths of Nile disgorge themselves. For there are Seven Places call'd Mouths, through which it empties itself into the Ocean. The first lying to the most Eastward Channel, is at Pelusium, call'd Pelusaicum; the Second Taniticum; the Third Mendesium; the Fourth Phatniticum; the Fifth Sebenyticum; the Sixth Bolbitinum, and the last Canopicum or Herculeum, as some call it. There are some other Mouths made by Art, of which it's not material to write. At every of the Mouths is a City built on either side of the River, defended with strong Guards and Bridges on each Bank. From Pelusaicum as far as to the Arabian Gulf, and the Red Sea, is a Canal cut out. Necos the Son of Psameticus, was the First that began this Work, and after him Darius the Persian carry'd it on, but left it unfinish'd, being told by some that if he cut it through the Isthmus, all Egypt would be drown'd, for that the Red Sea lay higher than Egypt. The last Attempt was made by Ptolemy the Second, who cut a Sluce cross over the Isthmus in a more convenient Place, which he open'd when he had a mind to Sail down that way, and then presently after shut up again; which Contrivance prov'd very useful and serviceable. The River which runs through this Cut is call'd Ptolemy, after the Name of the Maker. Where it falls into the Sea, there's a City built call'd Arsinoe. Delta is of the shape of Sicily: Both sides are Seven Hundred and Fifty Furlongs in length, and the Foot which lies along the Sea-Coast, is Thirteen Hundred Furlongs.

This Island has in it many Dikes and Sluces cut by Art, and is the most sweet and pleasantest part of Egypt; for being inricht and water'd by the River, it produces all sorts of Grain and other Fruits; and by the Yearly overflowing of the River, the Face of the Ground is still continually renew'd, and the Inhabitants have an easie way to water it by means of a certain Engin, invented by Archimedes the Syracusian, which from its Form is call'd Choclia. And whereas the Nile flows gently over it, it brings along with it much Soyl, which resting in low and hollow Grounds, makes very rich Marishes. For in these Places grow Roots of several Tasts and Savours, and Fruits and Herbs of a singular nature and quality, which are very useful both to the Poor, and those that are Sick; for they do not only afford plentifully in every Place things for Food, but all other things necessary and useful for the Life of Man. There grows in great Plenty Lotus, of which the Egyptians make Bread for the nourishment of Man's Body. Here's likewise produc'd in plenty Ciborium, call'd the Egyptian Bean. Here are divers sorts of Trees, amongst which those call'd Persica, whose Fruit is of wonderful sweetness: This Plant was brought out of Ethiopia by the Persians, when Cambyses conquer'd these Places. The Sycamore (or Egyptian Fig-tree) some of them bear Mulberries, others a Fruit like unto Figs, and bear all the Year long; so that a Man may satisfie his Hunger at any time. After the falling of the Waters of the River, they gather the Fruits call'd Bates, which for their sweet and delightful Taste are at Entertainments served up at last Course as delicious Deserts.

The Egyptians make a Drink of Barley, call'd Zythus, for smell and sweetness of Taste not much inferior to Wine. They make a Liquor like Oyl for the feeding of their Lamps, of the Juice of a Plant which they call Cici. There are many other Plants which grow in Egypt of admirable use, which would be too tedious here to enumerate.

The River Nile breeds many Creatures of several Forms and Shapes, amongst which, Two are especially remarkable, the Crocodile and the Horse as it's call'd: Amongst these the Crocodile of the least Creature becomes the greatest; for it lays an Egg much of the bigness of that of a Goose, and after the young is hatcht, it grows to the length of Sixteen Cubits, and lives to the Age of a Man: It wants a Tongue, but has a Body naturally arm'd in a wonderful manner. For its Skin is cover'd all over with Scales of an extraordinary hardness; many sharp Teeth are rang'd on both sides its Jaws, and Two of them are much bigger than the rest. This Monster does not only devour Men, but other Creatures that come near the River. His Bites are sharp and destructive, and with his Claws he tears his Prey cruelly in Pieces, and what Wounds he makes, no Medicine or Application can heal. The Egyptians formerly catcht these Monsters with Hooks, baited with

Bibliotheca Historica

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