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Canopus or Canobus


CANOPUS or CANOBUS, ancient coast town of Lower Egypt, i 5m. E. of Alexandria, was the principal port in Egypt for Greek trade before the foundation of Alexandria. The Canopic (westernmost) branch of the Nile, which en tered the Mediterranean at the western end of the Bay of Aboukir, is entirely silted up, but on the shore about 2m. from Aboukir there are extensive traces of the city with its quays, etc. Excavation has disclosed granite monuments with the name of Rameses II., but they may have been brought at a late period for the adornment of the place. In the 9th year of Ptolemy Euergetes (239 B.c.) a great assembly of priests at Canopus passed an honorific degree, inter alia, conferring the title Ei €pyf-rris, "Benefactor," on the king. Two examples of this decree are known, inscribed in hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek. A temple of Osiris was built by Euergetes, but very near to Canopus was an older shrine, a temple of Heracles mentioned by Herodotus as an asylum for fugitive slaves. The decree shows that Heracles here stands for Ammon. Osiris was worshipped at Canopus under a peculiar form, a vase with a human head, and was identified with Canopus, the pilot of Menelaus, who was said to have been buried here.

heracles and temple