Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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1.2.25

To refute Crates would require a lengthened argument, which here perhaps may be considered out of place. Aristarchus we commend for rejecting the hypothesis of Crates, which is open to many objections, and for referring the expression of the poet to our Ethiopia. But the remainder of his statement we must discuss. First, his minute examination of the reading is altogether fruitless, for whichever way it may have been written, his interpretation is equally applicable to both; for what difference is there whether you say thus—In our opinion there are two Ethiopias, one towards the east, the other to the west; or thus—For they are as well towards the east as the west? Secondly, He makes false assumptions. For admitting that the poet was ignorant of the isthmus, [Note] and that he alludes to the Ethiopia contiguous to Egypt, when he says, The Ethiopians separated into two divisions; [Note]
Odyssey i. 23.
what then? Are they not separated into two divisions, and could the poet have thus expressed himself if he had been in ignorance? Is not Egypt, nay, are not the Egyptians, sepa-

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rated into two divisions by the Nile from the Delta to Syene, [Note] These towards the west, those towards the east?
And what else is Egypt, with the exception of the island formed by the river and overflowed by its waters; does it not lie on either side of the river both east and west?

Ethiopia runs in the same direction as Egypt, and resembles it both in its position with respect to the Nile, and in its other geographical circumstances. It is narrow, long, and subject to inundation; beyond the reach of this inundation it is desolate and parched, and unfitted for the habitation of man; some districts lying to the east and some to the west of [the river]. How then can we deny that it is separated into two divisions? Shall the Nile, which is looked upon by some people as the proper boundary line between Asia and Libya, [Note] and which extends southward in length more than 10,000 stadia, embracing in its breadth islands which contain populations of above ten thousand men, the largest of these being Meroe, the seat of empire and metropolis of the Ethiopians, be regarded as too insignificant to divide Ethiopia into two parts? The greatest obstacle which they who object to the river being made the line of demarcation between the two continents are able to allege, is, that Egypt and Ethiopia are by this means divided, one part of each being assigned to Libya, and the other to Asia, or, if this will not suit, the continents cannot be divided at all, or at least not by the river. 1.2.26

But besides these there is another method of dividing Ethiopia. All those who have sailed along the coasts of Libya, whether starting from the Arabian Gulf, [Note] or the Pillars, [Note] after proceeding a certain distance, have been obliged to turn back again on account of a variety of accidents; and thus originated a general belief that it was divided midway by some isthmus, although the whole of

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the Atlantic Ocean is confluent, more especially towards the south. Besides, all of these navigators called the final country which they reached, Ethiopia, and described it under that name. Is it therefore at all incredible, that Homer, misled by such reports, separated them into two divisions, one towards the east and the other west, not knowing whether there were any intermediate countries or not? But there is another ancient tradition related by Ephorus, which Homer had probably fallen in with. He tells us it is reported by the Tartessians, [Note] that some of the Ethiopians, on their arrival in Libya, [Note] penetrated into the extreme west, and settled down there, while the rest occupied the greater part of the sea-coast; and in support of this statement he quotes the passage of Homer, The Ethiopians, the farthest removed of men, separated into two divisions. 1.2.27

These and other more stringent arguments may be urged against Aristarchus and those of his school, to clear our poet from the charge of such gross ignorance. I assert that the ancient Greeks, in the same way as they classed all the northern nations with which they were familiar under the one name of Scythians, or, according to Homer, Nomades, and

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afterwards becoming acquainted with those towards the west, styled them Kelts and Iberians; sometimes compounding the names into Keltiberians, or Keltoscythians, thus ignorantly uniting various distinct nations; so I affirm they designated as Ethiopia the whole of the southern countries towards the ocean. Of this there is evidence, for æschylus, in the Pro- metheus Loosed, [Note] thus speaks: There [is] the sacred wave, and the coralled bed of the Erythræan Sea, and [there] the luxuriant marsh of the Ethiopians, situated near the ocean, glitters like polished brass; where daily in the soft and tepid stream, the all-seeing sun bathes his undying self, and refreshes his weary steeds. And as the ocean holds the same position in respect to the sun, and serves the same purpose throughout the whole southern region, [Note] he [Note] therefore concludes that the Ethiopians inhabited the whole of the region.

And Euripides in his Phaeton [Note] says that Clymene was given To Merops, sovereign of that land
Which from his four-horsed chariot first
The rising sun strikes with his golden rays;
And which its swarthy neighbours call
The radiant stable of the Morn and Sun.
Here the poet merely describes them as the common stables of the Morning and of the Sun; but further on he tells us they were near to the dwellings of Merops, and in fact the whole plot of the piece has reference to this. This does not therefore refer alone to the [land] next to Egypt, but rather to the whole southern country extending along the sea-coast.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 1.2.24 Str. 1.2.26 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 1.2.29

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