Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 1.2.19 Str. 1.2.23 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 1.2.25


Some writers tell us there are but two principal winds, the north and south, and that the other winds are only a slight difference in the direction of these two. That is, (supposing only two winds, the north and south,) the south wind from the commencement of the summer quarter blows in a south-easterly direction; and from the commencement of the winter quarter from the east. The north wind from the decline of the summer, blows in a westerly direction, and from the decline of the winter, in a north-westerly direction.

In support of this opinion of the two winds they adduce Thrasyalces and our poet himself, forasmuch as he mentions the north-west with the south, From the north-west south, [Note]
Iliad xi. 306, xxi. 334.
and the west with the north, As when two adverse winds, blowing from Thrace,
Boreas and Zephyrus. [Note]
Iliad ix. 5.

But Posidonius remarks that none of those who are really acquainted with these subjects, such as Aristotle, Timosthenes,

-- 45 --

and Bion the astronomer, entertain so mistaken an opinion in regard to the winds. They say that the north-east (Cæcias) blows from the commencement of summer, and that the southwest wind (Libs), which is exactly opposite to this, blows from the decline of winter. And again, the south-east wind (Eurus), which is opposite to the north-west wind (Argestes), from the commencement of winter. The east and west winds being intermediate.

When our poet makes use of the expression stormy zephyr, he means the wind which is now called by us the north-west; and by the clear-blowing zephyr our west wind; our Leuco- notus is his Argestes-notus, or clearing south wind, [Note] for this wind brings but few clouds, all the other southern winds bringing clouds and rain, [Note] As when whirlwinds of the west
A storm encounter from the clearing south. [Note]
Iliad xi. 305.
Here he alludes to the stormy zephyr, which very frequently scatters the feathery clouds brought up by the Leuconotus, or, as it is called by way of epithet, the clearing south.

The statements made by Eratosthenes in the first book of his Geography, require some such correction as this. 1.2.22

Persisting in his false views in relation to Homer, he goes on to say, He was ignorant that the Nile separated into many mouths, nay, he was not even acquainted with the name of the river, though Hesiod knew it well, for he even mentions it. [Note] In respect of the name, it is probable that it

-- 46 --

had not then been given to the river, and as to the mouths, if they were obscure and little known, will not every one excuse him for not being aware whether there were several or merely one? At that time, the river, its rising, and its mouths were considered, as they are at the present day, amongst the most remarkable, the most wonderful, and most worthy of recording of all the peculiarities of Egypt: who can suppose that those who told our poet of the country and river of Egypt, of Egyptian Thebes, and of Pharos, were unaware of the many embouchures of the Nile; or that being aware, they would not have described them, were it not that they were too generally known? But is it not inconceivable that Homer should describe Ethiopia, and the Sidonians, the Erembi, and the Exterior Sea, [Note]—should tell us that Ethiopia was divided into two parts, and yet nothing about those things which were nearer and better known? Certainly not, his not describing these things is no proof that he was not acquainted with them. He does not tell us of his own country, nor yet many other things. The most probable reason is, they were so generally known that they did not appear to him worth recording. [Note] 1.2.23

Again, they are entirely wrong when they allege as a mark of Homer's ignorance, that he describes the island of Pharos [Note] as entirely surrounded by the sea. On the contrary, it might be taken advantage of as a proof that our poet was not unacquainted with a single one of the points concerning Egypt which we have just been speaking of: and thus we

-- 47 --

demonstrate it:—Every one is prone to romance a little in narrating his travels, and Menelaus was no exception to the rule. He had been to Ethiopia, [Note] and there heard much discussion concerning the sources of the Nile, and the alluvium which it deposited, both along its course, and also at its mouths, and the large additions which it had thereby made to the main-land, so as fully to justify the remark of Herodotus [Note] that the whole of Egypt was a gift from the river; or if not the whole, at all events that part of it below the Delta, called Lower Egypt. He had heard too that Pharos was entirely surrounded by sea, and therefore misrepresented it as entirely surrounded by the sea, although it had long ago ceased so to be. Now the author of all this was Homer, and we therefore infer that he was not ignorant concerning either the sources or the mouths of the Nile.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 1.2.19 Str. 1.2.23 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 1.2.25

Powered by PhiloLogic