May 10, 2012

The Struggle to Visit Thebes, 1737 | Walking Through Egypt

The Struggle to Visit Thebes, 1737
Captain Frederick Norden

14 December
It was four o’clock in the afternoon, when I began to perceive, on the eastern side, an obelisk: little after I discovered a great number of peristils, some portals and antique structure, confusedly scattered up and down the plain.

From these signs I immediately concluded that I saw the ruins of ancient Thebes; but I could not prevail upon our reys to put me ashore, by fair words, promises or menace. He did not here plead his fear of the Arabians; his only excuse was the impossibility of landing, on account of the islands and sandbanks that obstructed. He swore, moreover, by his beard, that there was no going thither, without making a great round of land.

[The next day they crossed the Nile to the west side. Norden landed and] . . . did not go far before [he] met two great colossuses. Encouraged by this first discovery, I returned for my arms, and the company of those whom curiosity might incite to be of the party. The reys perceiving our design, spared no pains to thwart it, nay employed all his eloquence to intimidate us. But when he found his representations had no weight with us, he had recourse to another stratagem, which he thought would prove more effectual to deter us, which was to swear, that if we went ashore, he would go homeward with his bark, and not wait for our return. But he was made to understand our fixed determination, and that if he dared to sail off, as he threatened, that we would certainly overtake him and make him pay dearly for his insolence. This threat had the desired effect upon him; and he changed his note, humbly conjuring us not to land, for the sake of him; [saying that if misfortune befell the party, he would be blamed].


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