Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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1.1.10

Homer, besides the boundaries of the earth, which he fully describes, was likewise well acquainted with the Mediterranean. Starting from the Pillars, [Note] this sea is encompassed by Libya, Egypt, and Phoenicia, then by the coasts opposite Cyprus, the Solymi, [Note] Lycia, and Caria, and then by the shore which stretches between Mycale [Note] and Troas, and the adjacent islands, every one of which he mentions, as well as those of the Propontis [Note] and the Euxine, as far as Colchis, and the locality of Jason's expedition. Furthermore, he was acquainted with the Cimmerian Bosphorus, [Note] having known the Cimmerians, [Note] and that not merely by name, but as being familiar with themselves. About his time, or a little before, they had ravaged the whole country, from the Bos-

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phorus to Ionia. Their climate he characterizes as dismal, in the following lines:— With clouds and darkness veil'd, on whom the sun
Deigns not to look with his beam-darting eye,
But sad night canopies the woeful race. [Note]
Odyssey xi. 15 and 19.
He must also have been acquainted with the Ister, [Note] since he speaks of the Mysians, a Thracian race, dwelling on the banks of the Ister. He knew also the whole Thracian [Note] coast adjacent thereto, as far as the Peneus, [Note] for he mentions individually the Pæonians, Athos, the Axius, [Note] and the neighbouring islands. From hence to Thesprotis [Note] is the Grecian shore, with the whole of which he was acquainted. He was besides familiar with the whole of Italy, and speaks of Te- mese [Note] and the Sicilians, as well as the whole of Spain [Note] and its fertility, as we have said before. If he omits various intermediate places this must be pardoned, for even the compiler of a Geography overlooks numerous details. We must forgive him too for intermingling fabulous narrative with his historical and instructive work. This should not be complained of; nevertheless, what Eratosthenes says is false, that the poets aim at amusement, not instruction, since those who have treated upon the subject most profoundly, regard poesy in the light of a primitive philosophy. But we shall refute Eratosthenes [Note]

more at length, when we have occasion again to speak of Homer.

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1.1.11

What we have already advanced is sufficient to prove that poet the father of geography. Those who followed in

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his track are also well known as great men and true philosophers. The two immediately succeeding Homer, according

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to Eratosthenes, were Anaximander, the disciple and fellow- citizen of Thales, and Hecatæus the Milesian. Anaximander

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was the first to publish a geographical chart. Hecatæus left a work [on the same subject], which we can identify as his by means of his other writings. 1.1.12

Many have testified to the amount of knowledge which this subject requires, and Hipparchus, in his Strictures on Eratosthenes, well observes, that no one can become really proficient in geography, either as a private individual or as a professor, without an acquaintance with astronomy, and a knowledge of eclipses. For instance, no one could tell whether Alexandria in Egypt were north or south of Babylon, nor yet the intervening distance, without observing the latitudes. [Note] Again, the only means we possess of becoming acquainted with the longitudes of different places is afforded by the eclipses of the sun and moon. Such are the very words of Hipparchus. 1.1.13

Every one who undertakes to give an accurate description of a place, should be particular to add its astronomical and geometrical relations, explaining carefully its extent, distance, degrees of latitude, and climate. [Note] Even a builder before constructing a house, or an architect before laying out a city, would take these things into consideration; much more should he who examines the whole earth: for such things in a peculiar manner belong to him. In small distances a little deviation north or south does not signify, but when it is the whole circle of the earth, the north extends to the furthest confines of Scythia, [Note] or Keltica, [Note] and the south to the extremities of Ethiopia: there is a wide difference here. The case is the same should we inhabit India or Spain, one in the east, the other far west, and, as we are aware, the anti- podes [Note] to each other. 1.1.14

The [motions] of the sun and stars, and the centripetal

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force meet us on the very threshold of such subjects, and compel us to the study of astronomy, and the observation of such phenomena as each of us may notice; in which too, very considerable differences appear, according to the various points of observation. How could any one undertake to write accurately and with propriety on the differences of the various parts of the earth, who was ignorant of these matters? and although, if the undertaking were of a popular character, it might not be advisable to enter thoroughly into detail, still we should endeavour to include every thing which could be comprehended by the general reader.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 1.1.8 Str. 1.1.13 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 1.1.16

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