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Page:Early Christianity in Arabia.djvu/70

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side were looked on with terror, and formed a bay which was named the Harbour of Death; and from its rocky extremity, Cape Gardafui, or the Cape of Burials, the spirit of the storm was believed to enjoy the last screams of the sinking mariner. The straits are at present scarcely three miles broad;[1] but according to the Arabian geographer, in his time, the sea was there so narrow that from one side a person might be recognized on the opposite shore;[2] and at the period of the expedition under Aryat, it is reported to have been no more than two stadia, or a quarter of a Roman mile, and to have been difficult to pass on account of the rocks that lay concealed beneath the waves.[3] Through this narrow passage the Abyssinian fleet had to sail, before it could reach the coast of Hamyar, and it was the plan of Dzu Nowass to render it impassable. For this purpose, he is said to have thrown across the least dangerous part a heavy chain of iron, held firm by fragments of rock, to which it was fixed, and which were sunk in the

  1. Lord Valentia, Travels. The breadth is here estimated from the Arabian coast to the small barren island of Perim, called by Arrian Diodorus. This narrow passage is the only one navigators can pass, as between the island and Africa are innumerable dangerous and small islands. The passage is even now difficult.
  2. Georg. Arabs, Clim. i. p. 6. ap. Bochart.
  3. Itaque considerans angustissimum esse fretum quod est inter Æthiopes et Homeritas, neque superare latitudine duorum stadiorum, et alioqui habere etiam saxa multis in locis latentia. Metaphrastes.