Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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1.2.28

Ephorus likewise shows us the opinion of the ancients respecting Ethiopia, in his Treatise on Europe. He says, If the whole celestial and terrestrial globe were divided into four parts, the Indians would possess that towards the east, the Ethiopians towards the south, the Kelts towards the west, and the Scythians towards the north. He adds that Ethiopia is larger than Scythia; for, says he, it appears that the country of the Ethiopians extends from the rising to the setting of the sun in winter; and Scythia is opposite to it.

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It is evident this was the opinion of Homer, since he places Ithaca Towards the gloomy region, [Note]
Odyssey ix. 26.
that is, towards the north, [Note] but the others apart, Towards the morning and the sun,
by which he means the whole southern hemisphere: and again when he says, speed they their course
With right-hand flight towards the ruddy east,
Or leftward down into the shades of eve. [Note]
Iliad xii. 239.
And again, Alas! my friends, for neither west
Know we, nor east, where rises or where sets
The all-enlightening sun. [Note]
Odyssey x. 190.
Which we shall explain more fully when we come to speak of Ithaca. [Note]

When therefore he says, For to the banks of the Oceanus,
Where Ethiopia holds a feast to Jove,
He journey'd yesterday, [Note]
Iliad i. 423.
we should take this in a general sense, and understand by it the whole of the ocean which washes Ethiopia and the southern region, for to whatever part of this region you direct your attention, you will there find both the ocean and Ethiopia. It is in a similar style he says, But Neptune, traversing in his return
From Ethiopia's sons the mountain heights
Of Solymè, descried him from afar. [Note]
Odyssey v. 282.

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which is equal to saying, in his return from the southern regions, [Note] meaning by the Solymi, as I remarked before, not those of Pisidia, but certain others merely imaginary, having the same name, and bearing the like relation to the navigators in [Ulysses'] ship, and the southern inhabitants there called Ethiopians, as those of Pisidia do in regard to Pontus and the inhabitants of Egyptian Ethiopia. What he says about the cranes must likewise be understood in a general sense. Such clang is heard
Along the skies, when from incessant showers
Escaping, and from winter's cold, the cranes
Take wing, and over ocean speed away.
Woe to the land of dwarfs! prepared they fly
For slaughter of the small Pygmæan race. [Note]
Iliad iii. 3.
For it is not in Greece alone that the crane is observed to emigrate to more southern regions, but likewise from Italy and Iberia, [Note] from [the shores of] the Caspian, and from Bactriana. But since the ocean extends along the whole southern coast, and the cranes fly to all parts of it indiscriminately at the approach of winter, we must likewise believe that the Pygmies [Note] were equally considered to inhabit the whole of it.

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And if the moderns have confined the term of Ethiopians to those only who dwell near to Egypt, and have also restricted the Pygmies in like manner, this must not be allowed to interfere with the meaning of the ancients. We do not speak of all the people who fought against Troy as merely Achæans and Argives, though Homer describes the whole under those two names. Similar to this is my remark concerning the separation of the Ethiopians into two divisions, that under that designation we should understand the whole of the nations inhabiting the sea-board from east to west. The Ethiopians taken in this sense are naturally separated into two parts by the Arabian Gulf, which occupies a considerable portion of a meridian circle, [Note] and resembles a river, being in length nearly 15,000 stadia, [Note] and in breadth not above 1000 at the widest point. In addition to the length, the recess of the Gulf is distant from the sea at Pelusium only three or four days' journey across the isthmus. On this account those who are most felicitous in their division of Asia and Africa, prefer the Gulf [Note] as a better boundary line for the

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two continents than the Nile, since it extends almost entirely from sea to sea, whereas the Nile is so remote from the ocean that it does not by any means divide the whole of Asia from Africa. On this account I believe it was the Gulf which the poet looked upon as dividing into two portions the whole southern regions of the inhabited earth. Is it possible, then, that he was unacquainted with the isthmus which separates this Gulf from the Egyptian Sea? [Note] 1.2.29

It is quite irrational to suppose that he could be accurately acquainted with Egyptian Thebes, [Note] which is separated from our sea [Note] by a little less than 5000 [Note]
stadia; and yet ignorant of' the recess of the Arabian Gulf, and of the isthmus there, whose breadth is not more than 1000 stadia. Still more, would it not be ridiculous to believe that Homer was aware the Nile was called by the same name as the vast country [of Egypt], and yet unacquainted with the reason why? especially since the saying of Herodotus would occur to him, that the country was a gift from the river, and it ought there-

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fore to bear its name. Further, the best known peculiarities of a country are those which have something of the nature of a paradox, and are likely to arrest general attention. Of this kind are the rising of the Nile, and the alluvial deposition at its mouth. There is nothing in the whole country to which travellers in Egypt so immediately direct their inquiries, as the character of the Nile; nor do the inhabitants possess any thing else equally wonderful and curious, of which to inform foreigners; for in fact, to give them a description of the river, is to lay open to their view every main characteristic of the country. It is the question put before every other by those who have never seen Egypt themselves. To these considerations we must add Homer's thirst after knowledge, and his delight in visiting foreign lands, (tastes which we are assured both by those who have written histories of his life, and also by innumerable testimonies throughout his own poems, he possessed in an eminent degree,) and we shall have abundant evidence both of the extent of his information, and the felicity with which he described objects he deemed important, and passed over altogether, or with slight allusion, matters which were generally known.



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