Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 1.1.18 Str. 1.1.22 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 1.2.3

1.1.21

Now there are some facts which we take to be established, viz. those with which every politician and general should be familiar. For on no account should they be so uninformed as to the heavens and the position of the earth, [Note] that when they are in strange countries, where some of the heavenly phenomena wear a different aspect to what they have been accustomed, they should be in a consternation, and exclaim, Neither west
Know we, nor east, where rises or where sets
The all-enlightening sun. [Note]
Odyssey x. 190.
Still, we do not expect that they should be such thorough masters of the subject as to know what stars rise and set together for the different quarters of the earth; those which have the same meridian line, the elevation of the poles, the signs which are in the zenith, with all the various phenomena which differ as well in appearance as reality with the variations of the horizon and arctic circle. With some of these matters, unless as philosophical pursuits, they should not burden themselves at all; others they must take for granted without searching into their causes. This must be left to the care of the philosopher; the statesman can have no leisure, or very little, for such pursuits. Those who, through carelessness and ignorance, are not familiar with the globe and the circles traced upon it, some parallel to each other, some at right angles to the former, others, again, in an oblique direction; nor yet with the position of the tropics, equator, and zodiac, (that circle through which the sun travels in his course, and by which we reckon the changes of season and the winds,) such persons we caution against the perusal of our work. For

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if a man is neither properly acquainted with these things, nor with the variations of the horizon and arctic circle, and such similar elements of mathematics, how can he comprehend the matters treated of here? So for one who does not know a right line from a curve, nor yet a circle, nor a plane or spherical surface, nor the seven stars in the firmament composing the Great Bear, and such like, our work is entirely useless, at least for the present. Unless he first acquires such information, he is utterly incompetent to the study of geography. * So those who have written the works entitled On Ports, and Voyages Round the World, have performed their task imperfectly, since they have omitted to supply the requisite information from mathematics and astronomy.* [Note] 1.1.22

The present undertaking is composed in a lucid style, suitable alike to the statesman and the general reader, after the fashion of my History. [Note] By a statesman we do not intend an illiterate person, but one who has gone through the course of a liberal and philosophical education. For a man who has bestowed no attention on virtue or intelligence, nor what constitutes them, must be incompetent either to blame or praise, still less to decide what actions are worthy to be placed on record. 1.1.23

Having already compiled our Historical Memoirs, which, as we conceive, are a valuable addition both to political and moral philosophy, we have now determined to follow it up with the present work, which has been prepared on the same system as the former, and for the same class of readers, but more particularly for those who are in high stations of life. And as our former production contains only the most striking events in the lives of distinguished men, omitting trifling and unimportant incidents; so here it will be proper to dismiss small and doubtful particulars, and merely call attention to great and remarkable transactions, such in fact as are use-

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fill, memorable, and entertaining. In the colossal works of the sculptor we do not descend into a minute examination of particulars, but look principally for perfection in the general ensemble. This is the only method of criticism applicable to the present work. Its proportions, so to speak, are colossal; it deals in the generalities and main outlines of things, except now and then, when some minor detail can be selected, calculated to be serviceable to the seeker after knowledge, or the man of business.

We now think we have demonstrated that our present undertaking is one that requires great care, and is well worthy of a philosopher.

CHAPTER II. 1.2.1

No one can [justly] blame us for having undertaken to write on a subject already often treated of, unless it appears that we have done nothing more than copy the works of former writers. In our opinion, though they may have perfectly treated some subjects, in others they have still left much to be completed; and we shall be justified in our performance, if we can add to their information even in a trifling degree. At the present moment the conquests of the Romans and Parthians have added much to our knowledge, which (as was well observed by Eratosthenes) had been considerably increased by the expedition of Alexander. This prince laid open to our view the greater part of Asia, and the whole north of Europe as far as the Danube. And the Romans [have discovered to us] the entire west of Europe as far as the river Elbe, which divides Germany, and the country beyond the Ister to the river Dniester. The country beyond this to the M├Žotis, [Note] and the coasts extending along Colchis, [Note] was brought to light by Mithridates, surnamed Eupator, and his generals. To the Parthians we are indebted for a better acquaintance with Hyrcania, [Note] Bac-

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triana, [Note] and the land of the Scythians [Note] lying beyond, of which before we knew but little. Thus we can add much information not supplied by former writers, but this will best be seen when we come to treat on the writers who have preceded us; and this method we shall pursue, not so much in regard to the primitive geographers, as to Eratosthenes and those subsequent to him. As these writers far surpassed the generality in the amount of their knowledge, so naturally it is more difficult to detect their errors when such occur. If I seem to contradict those most whom I take chiefly for my guides, I must claim indulgence on the plea, that it was never intended to criticise the whole body of geographers, the larger number of whom are not worthy of consideration, but to give an opinion of those only who are generally found correct. Still, while many are beneath discussion, such men as Eratosthenes, Posidonius, Hipparchus, Polybius, and others of their stamp, deserve our highest consideration.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 1.1.18 Str. 1.1.22 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 1.2.3

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