Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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In the following speech of Juno, he states that the ocean surrounds the earth. For to the green earth's utmost bounds I go,
To visit there the parent of the gods,
Oceanus. [Note]
Iliad xiv. 200.

Does he not here assert that ocean bounds all its extremities, and does it not surround these extremities? Again, in the

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Hoplopœia, [Note] he places the ocean in a circle round the border of Achilles' shield. Another proof of the extent of his knowledge, is his acquaintance with the ebb and flow of the sea, calling it the ebbing ocean. [Note] Again, Each day she thrice disgorges, and again
Thrice drinks, insatiate, the deluge down. [Note]

Odyss. xii. 105. The assertion of thrice, instead of twice, is either an error of the author, or a blunder of the scribe, but the phenomenon is the same, and the expression soft-flowing, [Note] has reference to the flood-tide, which has a gentle swell, and does not flow with a full rush. Posidonius believes that where Homer describes the rocks as at one time covered with the waves, and at another left bare, and when he compares the ocean to a river, he alludes to the flow of the ocean. The first supposition is correct, but for the second there is no ground; inasmuch as there can be no comparison between the flow, much less the ebb of the sea, and the current of a river. There is more probability in the explanation of Crates, that Homer describes the whole ocean as deep-flowing, ebbing, and also calls it a river, and that he also describes a part of the ocean as a river, and the flow of a river; and that he is speaking of a part, and not the whole, when he thus writes:— When down the smooth Oceanus impell'd
By prosperous gales, my galley, once again,
Cleaving the billows of the spacious deep,
Had reach'd the ææan isle. [Note]
Odyssey xii. l.
He does not, however, mean the whole, but the flow of the river in the ocean, which forms but a part of the ocean. Crates

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says, he speaks of an estuary or gulf, extending from the winter tropic towards the south pole. [Note] Now any one quitting this, might still be in the ocean; but for a person to leave the whole and still to be in the whole, is an impossibility. But Homer says, that leaving the flow of the river, the ship entered on the waves of the sea, which is the same as the ocean. If you take it otherwise you make him say, that departing from the ocean he came to the ocean. But this requires further discussion. 1.1.8

Perception and experience alike inform us, that the earth we inhabit is an island: since wherever men have approached the termination of the land, the sea, which we designate ocean, has been met with: and reason assures us of the similarity of those places which our senses have not been permitted to survey. For in the east [Note] the land occupied by the Indians, and in the west by the Iberians and Maurusians, [Note] is wholly encompassed [by water], and so is the greater part on the south [Note] and north. [Note] And as to what remains as yet unexplored by us, because navigators, sailing from opposite points, have not hitherto fallen in with each other, it is not much, as any one may see who will compare the distances between those places with which we are already acquainted. Nor is it likely that the Atlantic Ocean is divided into two seas by narrow isthmuses so placed as to prevent circumnavigation: how much more probable that it is confluent and uninterrupted! Those who have returned from an attempt to circumnavigate

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the earth, do not say they have been prevented from con- tinuing their voyage by any opposing continent, for the sea remained perfectly open, but through want of resolution, and the scarcity of provision. This theory too accords better with the ebb and flow of the ocean, for the phenomenon, both in the increase and diminution, is every where identical, or at all events has but little difference, as if produced by the agitation of one sea, and resulting from one cause. 1.1.9

We must not credit Hipparchus, who combats this opinion, denying that the ocean is every where similarly affected; or that even if it were, it would not follow that the Atlantic flowed in a circle, and thus continually returned into itself. Seleucus, the Babylonian, is his authority for this assertion. For a further investigation of the ocean and its tides we refer to Posidonius and Athenodorus, who have fully discussed this subject: we will now only remark that this view agrees better with the uniformity of the phenomenon; and that the greater the amount of moisture surrounding the earth, the easier would the heavenly bodies be supplied with vapours from thence. 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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Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 1.1.1 Str. 1.1.9 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 1.1.14

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