William of Tyre

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Willermi Tyrensis Archiepsicopi

(c. 1170-84)

Historia Rerum in Partibus Transmarinis Gestarum.

Latin.


Liber XIX

Capitulum XVIII

Praedictus igitur Hugo Caesariensis, et cum eo Gaufridus Fulcherii frater militiae Templi, in principio obeundae legationis, ducente soldano, Cahere ingressi, et ad palatium, quod lingua eorum Cascere dicitur, accedentes cum apparitorum numerositate maxima, qui cum gladiis et strepitu praecedebant, per angiportus et loca luminibus egentia ducti, ad singulos introitus armatorum Aethiopum cohortes crebrae salutationis officium certatim soldano exhibentes, repererunt.


Capitulum XXIV

Omnis enim Aegyptiacus tractus, a prioribus auspiciis suis, quibus Aethiopum regioni continuari dicitur, inter duas solitudines jacet arenosas, perpetua sterilitate damnatas; nec aliquando sentit aut praestat fructuarios proventus, cujuscunque generis, nisi quantum de beneficio exuberantis Nili, certis temporibus fecundatur. Fluvius autem non nisi quantum locorum adjacentium opportunitas permittit, sua reddit irrigatione frugibus aptam regionem; nam ubi circa se planiorem reperit superficiem, liberius effusus, latius etiam terram cultui praebet habiliorem, et factus diffusior diffusiorem glebae porrigit ubertatem. A Cahere ergo inferius, versus mare, planiora penitus inveniens loca, excursus habet liberos; unde et fecunditatem liberius latiusque procurat, et regno maximum dans incrementum, fines ejus dilatat. Nam ab eo oppido quod dicitur Facus, quod Syriam respicit, usque Alexandriam, quae novissima illius regni civitas, arentem contingit Lybiam, centum et amplius milliaribus culti fecundique commoditas diffunditur. A Cahere vero supra, usque quo perveniatur Chus, Aegyptiae dioecesis ultimam civitatem, quae regno Aethiopiae dicitur esse contermina, tantas patitur collium arenosorum objectu angustias, ut raro septem aut octo milliaribus, frequentius quatuor aut quinque, aut altrinsecus, aut ex una tantum parte diffusus, ad suae exundationis modum, regni fines laterales vel contrahat, vel producat; nam quae loca non irrigat fluvius, solis ardoribus et perpetuae, ut diximus, sterilitati deputantur. Superior igitur regio lingua eorum Seith appellatur.

Capitulum XXVI

De superioribus autem Aegypti partibus per fluenta Nili, omnimodorum alimentorum copiam, et rerum pene omnium suscipit ubertatem. Verum et de regionibus transmarinis, si qua sunt quae Aegyptus non habet, navigio omnis opulenti ministratur; unde amplius qualibet urbe maritima omnibus commoditatibus dicitur abundare. Ad haec ex utraque India, Saba, Arabia, ex utraque etiam nihilominus Aethiopia, sed et de Perside et aliis circum adjacentibus provinciis, quidquid aromatum, margaritarum, Orientalium gazarum et peregrinarum mercium, quibus noster indiget orbis, per mare Rubrum, unde gentibus illis ad nos iter est, in superiores partes Aegypti, ad eam urbem quae Aideb dicitur, super ripam ejusdem maris sitam infertur, id totum ad flumen, et inde Alexandriam descendit. Sic ergo Orientalium et Occidentalium illuc fit concursus populorum; estque eadem civitas forum publicum utrique orbi.


(Chapter XVIII

Hugh of Caesarea, and with him Geoffrey Foucher, brother of the knights of the Temple, [who were] leading the legation, conducted by the Sultan, entered Cairo and arrived at the palace, which in their language is called Cascere, with a great number of servants who preceded them with their swords and with a great noise ; they were conducted through narrow alleys and places in a lack of lights and at each entrance they met guards of armed Ethiopians performing repeatedly the salutation to the Sultan.

Chapter XXIV

Every Egyptian district, from prior guidance are said to be between two sandy deserts and are connected with Ethiopia. There is a perpetual cursed sterilization; neither do the fruits or the size of objects, of whatever kind, increase except as far as the benefit from the overflowing of the Nile, which is made fruitful at certain times. The river is the extent of the only opportunity that the adjacent local opportunity allows to render their crops suitable for irrigation region. Fertility extends [along the river] where there is a smoother surface, freely shed, that has the ability to serve them in spreading soil. A lower Caher then in the kingdom, it finds places to go through completely toward the sea so the current has children; hence, becoming more freely and more widely spread, and the fruitfulness of the commission, and giving an increase to the maximum of room for its border. In fact, it is said that from that town, they transformed it, to look back to Syria, as far as Alexandria, the city of the kingdom, which is in Lybia, the end is on dry land a hundred miles and the convenience of your fruitful melt is poured forth. The Caher, however, as above, is long. One passes through Kush the last city of the Egyptian diocese, which is said to be the borders of the kingdom of Ethiopia, suffers so great objection to the narrowness of the hills of a sandy way that we can rarely go to the lateral borders of the kingdom which is seven or eight miles, but most of the time, four or five, because [the river] overflows its way on each side, or only on one side. The things which are not watered with the river, are assigned to sterility because of the eternal heat of the sun, as we have said. The superior country was then called Seith in their language.

Chapter XXVI

From the region of Upper Egypt [i.e. in Alexandria] a great wealth of food of all sorts and an abundance of almost all things is created by the Nile. And, in truth, if there are things that Egypt do not have, they are all brought from regions overseas in great quantity; and hence it is said that it [Alexandria] reaps, more than any other maritime city, with all commodities. From the two Indias, Saba, Arabia and also from the two Ethiopias as well as from Persia and from other adjacent provinces, all kind of herbs, pearls, treasures of the Orient and foreign wares that our world is lacking, are coming to [Alexandria] by the Red Sea. From these people there is a route leading to us, in the upper parts of Egypt, they [the foreign wares] are brought to the city known as Aideb (‘Aydhab), which is located on the shore of this sea and from there everything is transported on the Nile and then to Alexandria. Thus, this is a place where people from the East and from the West are all meeting and this city is like the public market of the two worlds.)


Selected editions

Recueil des Historiens des Croisades. Historiens Occidentaux. Tome I (Paris: 1844).