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Pyramids at Heracleopolis.

Pliny on the Labyrinth at Heracleopolis (Naturalis Historia 36.19)

praeterea templa omnium Aegypti deorum contineat superque Nemesis XL aediculis incluserit pyramides complures quadragenarum ulnarum senas radice ἀρούρας optinentes.

Additionally, it would contain temples of all the gods of Egypt, and of Nemesis as well; among its forty shrines it would have included many pyramids, each forty ells tall and covering six aruras at the base.

The ulna “ell” was given several values, varying from the width of outstretched arms (about six feet; the Greek ὄργυια orgyia) to the ordinary foot-and-a-half cubit, putting the height of these pyramids somewhere between 60 and 240 feet tall. The ἀρούρα is a square 100 cubits to a side, so these pyramids covered roughly three acres each, or about 367 feet to a side.

It’s hard to tell whether superque Nemesis refers to one of the gods there are temples for, as I’ve translated it, or whether there were, for whatever unknown reason, forty shrines to Nemesis in addition to the temples of Egyptian gods, as one of my reference translations had it. Alternately there’s a suggestion that the name refers to the builder; the labyrinth is identified by some as the mortuary temple at Hawara belonging to Amenemhat III—and some emendations of the text do write Amenemesis, though as far as that goes Nemesis itself may just as well be the prenomen Nimaatre (n m3ˁt rˁ )—but this seems less likely given Pliny’s previous statements as to the uncertainty of the pyramid’s builder.

[For pyramis.]

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