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TABLE OF CONTENTS.
IX. From the Death of Constantine to the Reunion of the Empire
under Theodosius the Great...
X. Overthrow of the Western Empire.....
SECTION 1.-Geographical Outline. Egypt is the country in which we first find a government and political institutions established. Civilization everywhere seems to have commenced in the formation of agricultural associations, on the banks of rivers; and the Nile invites men to tillage more forcibly than any other. Egypt itself has been called, from the earliest antiquity, "the Gift of the Nile,” and its annual inundations have had a vast influence over the lives and customs, the religion and science, indeed, the entire social existence of the people. It appears that civilization advanced northward along the valley of the river: and we shall therefore commence our examination of the land, at the southern frontier of Egypt.
The Nile enters Egypt near the city of Syéne, below the cataracts, and flows through a narrow valley, about nine miles in breadth, to Chem'mis, where the valley begins to widen. At Cercasórus, sixty miles from its mouth, the stream divides, and encloses a triangular piece of country, called the Delta. The narrow valley from Syéne to Chem'mis was called Upper Egypt; the wider valley, Middle Egypt; and the Delta, Lower Egypt.
Rain seldom falls in Lower Egypt, almost never in the upper regions: the fertility of the country, therefore, depends on the annual overflowings of the river. These inundations are caused by the heavy rains, that fall in Upper Ethiopia, from May to September. The rivers of that country pour their waters into the Nile, which begins to rise about the middle of June. Early in August, the river overflows its banks, giving the valley of the Nile the appearance of an inland sea. Toward the beginning of October, the waters begin to subside, and, by the end of the month, are confined to the proper channel of the river. The fertility of Egypt extends as far as this inundation reaches, or can be continued by artificial means.