Up or Down the Nile? Another one for the Blooper File

The Nile is a river in Egypt that empties into the Mediterranean. Its source, though hotly debated in ancient times and incorrectly theorized by King Juba II to be in ancient Mauretania, is actually (mostly) in Ethiopia. The river flows north.

Consequently, when traveling from Alexandria on a river barge into deeper parts of Egypt, one would be traveling upstream. Not down.

Unfortunately, I have always thought of traveling south as down. My use of this colloquialism is totally untenable as pertains to river travel. In this case, because the Nile flows the other way, no experienced river barge traveler would ever phrase it this way. And certainly not one from Egypt, where ‘Upper Egypt’ was often considered its own land.

Nevertheless, I wrote of going down the river in Lily of the Nile and probably in Song of the Nile as well, though I have not yet checked. It will be corrected in the third and final book of the Nile series. In the meantime, it’s another thing to file in my blooper’s section.

Comments (7)

  • Cat

    I’ve always thought it funny and odd how the Nile flows north. I can’t wait until the third book!

  • German rivers flow north all the time, the Rhine, Weser, Elbe which confluence into the North Sea; the Oder and Weichsel (Vistula; now Poland) joining the Baltic Sea …. so it would read odd to me to have ‘down the Nile’ mean southward.

  • michelle

    But then the nile source in Mauretania could Juba be hinting at Selene? That the bloodline of Egypt was now flowed in Mauretaina? Just speculating.

  • I confuse these ALL the time. I also love explaining to people that Upper Egypt is in the south, Lower Egypt is in the north, and eastern Egypt lies on an entirely different continent. Good times, good times…

    • I console myself by remembering that no matter how cuddly readers think Hippos really are…they are actually dangerous creatures. They don’t have to be carnivores to kill you. Also, I must look away from your website because you have too many interesting things on it and I will be lost there for days!

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