Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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1.2.32

But if our poet speaks of the Isthmus of Suez as ever having been the strait of confluence between the Mediterranean and the Red Seas, how much more credit may we attribute to his division of the Ethiopians into two portions, being thus separated by so grand a strait! And what commerce could he have carried on with the Ethiopians who dwelt by the shores of the exterior sea and the ocean? Telemachus and his companions admire the multitude of ornaments that were in the palace, Of gold, electrum, silver, ivory. [Note]
Odyssey iv. 73.
Now the Ethiopians are possessed of none of these productions in any abundance, excepting ivory, being for the most

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part a needy and nomad race. True, [you say,] but adjoining them is Arabia, and the whole country as far as India. One of these is distinguished above all other lands by the title of Felix, [Note] and the other, though not dignified by that name, is both generally believed and also said to be preeminently Blessed.

But [we reply], Homer was not acquainted with India, or he would have described it. And though he knew of the Arabia which is now named Felix, at that time it was by no means wealthy, but a wild country, the inhabitants of which dwelt for the most part in tents. It is only a small district which produces the aromatics from which the whole territory afterwards received its name, [Note] owing to the rarity of the commodity amongst us, and the value set upon it. That the Arabians are now flourishing and wealthy is due to their vast and extended traffic, but formerly it does not appear to have been considerable. A merchant or camel-driver might attain to opulence by the sale of these aromatics and similar commodities; but Menelaus could only become so either by plunder, or presents conferred on him by kings and nobles, who had the means at their disposal, and wished to gratify one so distinguished by glory and renown. The Egyptians, it is true, and the neighbouring Ethiopians and Arabians, were not so entirely destitute of the luxuries of civilization, nor so unacquainted with the fame of Agamemnon, especially after the termination of the Trojan war, but that Menelaus might have expected some benefits from their generosity, even as the breastplate of Agamemnon is said to be The gift
Of Cinyras long since; for rumour loud
Had Cyprus reached. [Note]
Iliad xi. 20.
And we are told that the greater part of his wanderings were in Phœnicia, Syria, Egypt, Africa, around Cyprus, and, in fact, the whole of our coasts and islands. [Note] Here, indeed, he might hope to enrich himself both by the gifts of friendship

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and by violence, and especially by the plunder of those who had been the allies of Troy. They however who dwelt on the exterior ocean, and the distant barbarians, held out no such encouragement: and when Menelaus is said to have been in Ethiopia, it is because he had reached the frontiers of that country next Egypt. But perhaps at that time the frontiers lay more contiguous to Thebes than they do now. At the present day the nearest are the districts adjacent to Syene and Philæ, [Note] the former town being entirely in Egypt, while Philæ is inhabited by a mixed population of Ethiopians and Egyptians. Supposing therefore he had arrived at Thebes, and thus reached the boundary-line of Ethiopia, where he experienced the munificence of the king, we must not be surprised if he is described as having passed through the country. [Note] On no better authority Ulysses declares he has been to the land of the Cyclops, although he merely left the sea to enter a cavern which he himself tells us was situated on the very borders of the country: and, in fact, wherever he came to anchor, whether at æolia, Læstrygonia, or elsewhere, he is stated to have visited those places. In the same manner Menelaus is said to have been to Ethiopia and Libya, because here and there he touched at those places, and the port near Ardania above Parætonium [Note] is called after him the port of Menelaus. [Note] 1.2.33

When, after mentioning Phoenicia, he talks of Sidon, its metropolis, he merely employs a common form of expression, for example, He urged the Trojans and Hector to the ships. [Note]Iliad xiii. 1.
For the sons of magnanimous Œneus were no more, nor was he himself surviving; moreover, fair-haired Meleager was dead. [Note] He came to Ida—and to Gargarus. [Note]
Iliad viii. 47.

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He possessed Eubœa, Chalcis, and Eretria. [Note]
Iliad ii. 536.
Sappho likewise [says], Whether Cyprus, or the spacious-harboured Paphos. [Note]

But he had some other cause besides this for mentioning Sidon immediately after having spoken of the Phoenicians: for had he merely desired to recount the nations in order, it would have been quite sufficient to say, Having wandered to Cyprus, Phœnice, and the Egyptians, I came to the Ethiopians. [Note]

But that he might record his sojourn amongst the Sidonians, which was considerably prolonged, he thought it well to refer to it repeatedly. Thus he praises their prosperity and skill in the arts, and alludes to the hospitality the citizens had shown to Helen and Alexander. Thus he tells us of the many [treasures]of this nature laid up in store by Alexander. [Note] There his treasures lay,
Works of Sidonian women, whom her son,
The godlike Paris, when he crossed the seas
With Jove-begotten Helen, brought to Troy. [Note]
Iliad vi. 289.
And also by Menelaus, who says to Telemachus, 'I give thee this bright beaker, argent all,
But round encircled with a lip of gold.
It is the work of Vulcan, which to me
The hero Phædimus presented, king
Of the Sidonians, when on my return
Beneath his roof I lodged. I make it thine. [Note]
Odyssey xv. 115.
Here the expression, work of Vulcan, must be looked upon as a hyperbole: in the same way all elegant productions are

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said to be the work of Minerva, of the Graces, or of the Muses. But that the Sidonians were skilful artists, is clear from the praises bestowed [by Homer] on the bowl which Euneos gave in exchange for Lycaon: Earth
Own'd not its like for elegance of form.
Skilful Sidonian artists had around
Embellish'd it, and o'er the sable deep
Phœnician merchants into Lemnos' port
Had borne it. [Note]
Iliad xxiii. 742.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 1.2.31 Str. 1.2.33 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 1.2.35

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