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The Egyptians also worshiped* the Nile under the name of Serapis.
$ III. Of the origin of the Nile. Respecting the origin of the Nile which many derive from the mountains of the moon, the opinions of authors are various. Many kings and emperors have investigated it in vain, so that it has become a proverb, that to seek for the head of the Nile is to seek for a thing that is arduous and beyond the powers of man.t Alexander, indeed, when he saw crocodiles in the Hydaspes and Egyptian beans in Acesines, thought that he had discovered the source of the Nile, and prepared a fleet for Egypt, intending to sail down this river into the Nile, but he soon discovered that his hopes were not to be realised, for large rivers intervened, and the Ocean also into which all the rivers of India flow; and besides these Ariana and the Ar-' abian and Persian gulfs ; and Arabia and Troglodytica.[ Hieronymus Lobo, according to TELLEZ, in his history of Aethiopia, says that the Nile rises in the kingdom of Gojam, a country under the Aethiopians or Abyssinians, in latitude twelve degrees from the Equator. SUDAs says, the etesiæs blow during the greater part of the summer; because the sun ascending higher and approaching nearer to the north, dissolves the moisture which exists in that part, which, mingling with the air and wind, forms the etesiæ : and this wind carried from the north into the south, when it meets the higher mountains of Aethiopia, is condensed and forms rain : by which the Nile, although coming from
* Vid. Sekmanni diss. hist. de Serapide Egyptorum Deo maximo, Lipsiae 1666. Bosseckii diss. de Aluminum cultu. Lipsiae 1740. Seldenus de Diis Syris. Synt. i. c. 4. Kercheri Oedipus Egypt. T. i. Synt. 3. c. 7. T. iii. Synt. 15. c. 1. Vossii Theologia Gentilium lib. ii. c. 74, 75. † Strabo, lib. xv. p. 696.
Kercheri Oedipus Egypt. T. i. Synt. 1. c. 7. § North East Winds which blow for forty days during the dog days.
a dry and tropical climate, is made to overflow. What Sudas here says of the increase of the Nile, Pliny declares, is believed by others also, where he gives the different opinions respecting the source of the Nile. He says* that authors have advanced various causes of the increase of the Nile, the most probable of which are, the condensation of the etesiae, blowing at that time from contrary directions, the sea being driven beyond its shores; or the summer showers of Aethiopia, the etesiae carrying the clouds thither from the rest of the world. Ammonius testifies the same thing.t The most famous opinion is that the Prodromit blowing, and continual blasts of the Etsiae meeting them for forty-five days, the velocity of the flowing of the river is retarded, so that its waves swell and overflow. - In this manner the river continues to flow, still opposed by the winds, until it inundates the whole country. The opinions which Pliny and Sudas have expressed in their writings, they appear to have taken from Callisthenes and Democritus, who express the same sentiments. But the opinion that seems most probable to me is that the Nile arises not from fountains, but has its source in Aethiopia from the rains which fall there, and which, when the sun enters the sign of the cancer, are very great and abundant, and continue such for the space of forty days. In the month of June, on the seventeenth day the river begins to increase and inundates the whole of Egypt. This increase ends in the month of August and some times not until the middle of September ; at which time it gradually diminishes, after the space of three months have intervened. The more abundant its increase has been, the slower is its fall, and the later the harvest. In this manner it supplies the wants of the husbandmang.
* Plinii hist. nat. lib. v. cap. 9.
+ lib. xxii. # Winds which blow for eight days before the rising of the dog star.
$ Homer represents the Nile as descending from heaven. A/S EIS Αιγυπτοιο διϊπεσεος ποταμοιo Odyss. Δ. V. 581.
$ IV. Of the effects of the inundation of the Nile and
of the measures of the Nile. Pliny* elegantly describes the effect of the overflowing of the Nile. When it is twelve cubits, famine is the consequence; when thirteen, hunger follows; fourteen cubits produce joy ; fifteen, security; and sixteen, delight. Wherefore an image was erected in the temple of peace by Vespasian Augustus, with sixteen children, by which was signified the overflowing of the Nile to the depth of sixteen cubits. The higher it rises beyond this number, the greater famine is expected, because the water delaying too long, the time of sowing is passed, and the crops cannot arrive at maturity, or produce fruit. It is the greatest calamity which can possibly happen to Egypt, when the Nile does not sufficiently water the earth, or when it exceeds sixteen cubits. The first curse upon Egypt is predicted in Isa. xix. 5. The words of the
-which are gener וְנִשְׁתוּ־מים מהים Hebrew text are
ally translated, deficient seu arescent aquæ ex mari ; so the Syriac, Symmachus and the Vulgate. The root of this verb with the points and the dagesch forte, is nwy which is said to occur three times in the Bible, but it is to be found in no other Oriental language, and is therefore very doubtful. But if you reject the points and the dagesch forte, which were added by the Masorites about the seventh century after Christ, the places where this word is found become very clear.
Therefore I think it ought to be read in this place input without the dagesch
* I. e.
† Arcadius the Emperor, forbade any water to be taken from the Nile by breaking the mounds when the increase was less than twelve cubits, under pain of burning-Anno Christi ccccix. leg. i., de Nile agerribus, lib. 9. Cod. Theod. tit. 32., in which year a great famine prevailed at Constantinople, teste Marcellino in Chron.
* Besides this place. Is. xli. 17; and Jer. li. 30.
forte, which is the Praeter. Conjug. Niph, from the root inw bibere, and should be translated, ebibentur aquæ ex mari, and so the LXX and Aquila have translated it you αναποθησεται υδατα απο θαλασσης. . By the word op translators understand the Mediterranean sea. But what is that to Egypt? It would affect it but little, was it entirely dry. In my opinion D' in this place is the river Nile, which is very often called the sea : for the first name of this river was Oceanus, in Greek OxsQovs. * But the sense of this place is by no means that the Nile should dry up entirely, but that it should not sufficiently water the land.
It has been made a matter of attention by some men, how they might discover by diligent observation, what number of cubits the river rises when it is the highest, and the instrument by which they made their observations was called Nemouetglov: it was divided into cubits. John Graviust has described this instrument. He says it is yet to be found in Cairo, and Thevenot, Hasselquist and others state the same thing. I The geographer of Nubiaş has elegantly described it as follows : Dar Almechias, that is, the place of measure is at the head of an island, which is broader on the eastern side, which is in sight of the city Fosdad. It is a large hall, surrounded within on all sides with arches, which a circle of columns support; and in the midst of the hall, is a large and deep cistern to which there is a discent on all sides by marble steps. From the centre of the cistern arises a straight marble column divided into cubits and digits. The water is carried to that cistern through a large canal, which passes from it to the water of the Nile. The water does not run into the cistern except when it has arrived to that elevation which takes place in the month of August. The waters ordinarily rise sixteen cubits, and then they irrigate equally the territory of the Emperor. When the Nile rises eighteen cubits it waters both the neighbouring countries. If it rises twenty cubits it causes injury. Twelve cubits is a very small rise-A cubit is twenty-four digits. As often as it exceeds eighteen cubits it brings destruction, because it tears up and kills the trees. Likewise when it is less than twelve cubits, it produces drought and famine. It may be proper to refer to the words of Hasselquist on the means of ascertaining the height of the Nile.
* Conf. Diod. Sic. Bibl. hist. lib. i. cap. 12. Maillet in description de l'Egypte, lettre ii. p. 41. The Nile, they say, flows with such force, that it more resembles a sea, than a simple river.
+ In libro de pede Romano.
# Thevenot Voyage au Levante, p. I. lib. 2. c. 32 ; et lib. 3. c. 44. Hasselquist Reise nach Palestina, pag. 76. Conf. Diod Sic. Bibl. hist. lib. 1. Strabo in Georg. lib. xviii. Plutarch de Iside et Osir. Plinii hist, natur. lib. v. c. 9 ; xviii. 18; xxxvi. 7. Herodot. lib. i. c. 13.
§ Clim. iii. p. 13.
“The place in which the height of the water is measured (the Nilometer) is the most remarkable thing in Old Cairo. It is a quadrangular house, built by the river, the roof terminating in a white pyramid. At certain distances from the ground there are openings to admit the water. In the middle of the building stands a marble pillar, upon which a gauge is marked, upon which the daily rise and fall of the water can be noted, until the whole land is overflowed. The government appoint the persons who are to make these remarks and during this period their superstition will not allow any but Mohammedans to enter the building. It was therefore impossible for us to obtain a view from the inside."
§ V. Of the drains and the lake of Moeris. The ancient Egyptians made use of various inventions, when the Nile did not overflow the more elevated lands, (for you will find no mountains in Egypt) or when it exceeded the desired bounds; among which inventions the drains and aqueducts hold a distinguished place. In the