Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 1.1.1 Str. 1.1.5 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 1.1.8


First, he stated that the earth was entirely encompassed by the ocean, as in truth it is; afterwards he described the countries, specifying some by name, others more generally by various indications, explicitly defining Libya, [Note] Ethiopia, the Sidonians, and the Erembi (by which latter are probably intended the Troglodyte Arabians); and alluding to those farther east and west as the lands washed by the ocean, for in ocean he believed both the sun and constellations to rise and set. Now from the gently-swelling flood profound
The sun arising, with his earliest rays,
In his ascent to heaven smote on the fields. [Note]
Iliad vii. 421
And now the radiant sun in ocean sank,
Dragging night after him o'er all the earth. [Note]

Iliad viii. 485
The stars also he describes as bathed in the ocean. [Note]

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He portrays the happiness of the people of the West, and the salubrity of their climate, having no doubt heard of the abundance of Iberia, [Note] which had attracted the arms of Hercules, [Note] afterwards of the Phoenicians, who acquired there an extended rule, and finally of the Romans. There the airs of Zephyr breathe, there the poet feigned the fields of Elysium, when he tells us Menelaus was sent thither by the gods:— Thee the gods
Have destined to the blest Elysian isles,
Earth's utmost boundaries. Rhadamanthus there
For ever reigns, and there the human kind
Enjoy the easiest life; no snow is there,
No biting winter, and no drenching shower,
But Zephyr always gently from the sea
Breathes on them, to refresh the happy race. [Note]
Odyssey iv. 563

The Isles of the Blest [Note] are on the extreme west of Maurusia, [Note] near where its shore runs parallel to the opposite coast of Spain; and it is clear he considered these regions also Blest, from their contiguity to the Islands. 1.1.6

He tells us also, that the Ethiopians are far removed, and bounded by the ocean: far removed,— The Ethiopians, utmost of mankind,
These eastward situate, those toward the west. [Note]
Odyssey i. 23

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Nor was he mistaken in calling them separated into two divisions, as we shall presently show: and next to the ocean,— For to the banks of the Oceanus,
Where Ethiopia holds a feast to Jove,
He journey'd yesterday. [Note]
Iliad i. 423
Speaking of the Bear, he implies that the most northern part of the earth is bounded by the ocean: Only star of these denied
To slake his beams in Ocean's briny baths. [Note]
Iliad xviii. 489; Odyssey v. 275.
Now, by the Bear and the Wain, he means the Arctic Circle; otherwise he would never have said, It alone is deprived of the baths of the ocean, when such an infinity of stars is to be seen continually revolving in that part of the hemisphere. Let no one any longer blame his ignorance for being merely acquainted with one Bear, when there are two. It is probable that the second was not considered a constellation until, on the Phœnicians specially designating it, and employing it in navigation, it became known as one to the Greeks. [Note] Such is the case with the Hair of Berenice, and Canopus, whose names are but of yesterday; and, as Aratus remarks, there are numbers which have not yet received any designation. Crates, therefore, is mistaken when, endeavouring to amend what is correct, he reads the verse thus: οἷος δ' ἄμμορός ἐστι λοετρῶν,
replacing οἴη by οἶς, with a view to make the adjective agree

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with the Arctic Circle, which is masculine; instead of the Arctic Constellation, which is feminine. The expression of Heraclitus is far more preferable and Homeric, who thus figuratively describes the Arctic Circle as the Bear,—The Bear is the limit of the dawn and of the evening, and from the re- gion of the Bear we have fine weather. Now it is not the constellation of the Bear, but the Arctic Circle, which is the limit of the rising and the setting stars.

By the Bear, then, which he elsewhere calls the Wain, and describes as pursuing Orion, Homer means us to under- stand the Arctic Circle; and by the ocean, that horizon into which, and out of which, the stars rise and set. When he says that the Bear turns round and is deprived of the ocean, he was aware that the Arctic Circle [always] extended to the sign opposite the most northern point of the horizon. Adapting the words of the poet to this view, by that part of the earth nearest to the ocean we must understand the horizon, and by the Arctic Circle that which extends to the signs which seem to our senses to touch in succession the most northern point of the horizon. Thus, according to him, this portion of the earth is washed by the ocean. With the nations of the North he was well acquainted, although he does not mention them by name, and indeed at the present day there is no regular title by which they are all distinguished. He informs us of their mode of life, describing them as wanderers, noble milkers of mares, living on cheese, and without wealth. [Note]

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 1.1.1 Str. 1.1.5 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 1.1.8

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