Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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1.2.34

Many conjectures have been hazarded as to who the Erembi were: they who suppose the Arabs are intended, seem to deserve the most credit.

Our Zeno reads the passage thus:— I came to the Ethiopians, the Sidonians, and the Arabians.

But there is no occasion to tamper with the text, which is of great antiquity; it is a far preferable course to suppose a change in the name itself, which is of frequent and ordinary occurrence in every nation: and in fact certain grammarians establish this view by a comparison of the radical letters. Posidonius seems to me to adopt the better plan after all, in looking for the etymology of names in nations of one stock and community; thus between the Armenians, Syrians, and Arabians there is a strong affinity both in regard to dialect, mode of life, peculiarities of physical conformation, and above all in the contiguity of the countries. Mesopotamia, which is a motley of the three nations, is a proof of this; for the similarity amongst these three is very remarkable. And though in consequence of the various latitudes there may be some difference between those who dwell in the north [Note] and those of the the south, [Note] and again between each of these and the inhabitants of the middle region, [Note] still the same characteristics are dominant in all. Also the Assyrians and Arians have a great affinity both to these people and to each other. And [Posidonius] believes there is a similarity in the names of these different nations. Those whom we call Syrians style themselves Armenians and Arammæans, names greatly like those of the Armenians, Arabs, and Erembi. Perhaps this [last] term

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is that by which the Greeks anciently designated the Arabs; the etymon of the word certainly strengthens the idea. Many deduce the etymology of the Erembi from ἔραν ἐμ<>αίνειν, (to go into the earth,) which [they say] was altered by the people of a later generation into the more intelligible name of Troglodytes, [Note] by which are intended those Arabs who dwell on that side of the Arabian Gulf next to Egypt and Ethiopia. It is probable then that the poet describes Menelaus as having visited these people in the same way that he says he visited the Ethiopians; for they are likewise near to the Thebaid; and he mentions them not on account of any commerce or gain, (for of these there was not much,) but probably to enhance the length of the journey and his meed of praise: for such distant travelling was highly thought of. For example,— Discover'd various cities, and the mind
And manners learn'd of men in lands remote. [Note]
Odyssey i. 3.
And again: After numerous toils
And perilous wanderings o'er the stormy deep,
In the eighth year at last I brought them home. [Note]
Odyssey iv. 81.
Hesiod, in his Catalogue, [Note] writes, And the daughter of Arabus, whom gracious Hermes and Thronia, descended from king Belus, brought forth. Thus, too, says Stesichorus. Whence it seems that at that time the country was from him named Arabia, though it is not likely this was the case in the heroic period. [Note] 1.2.35

There are many who would make the Erembi a tribe of the Ethiopians, or of the Cephenes, or again of the Pygmies, and a thousand other fancies. These ought to be regarded with little trust; since their opinion is not only incredible, but they evidently labour under a certain confusion as to the

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different characters of history and fable. In the same category must be reckoned those who place the Sidonians and Phœnicians in the Persian Gulf, or somewhere else in the Ocean, and make the wanderings of Menelaus to have happened there. Not the least cause for mistrusting these writers is the manner in which they contradict each other. One half would have us believe that the Sidonians are a colony from the people whom they describe as located on the shores of the [Indian] Ocean, and who they say were called Phoenicians from the colour of the Erythræan Sea, while the others declare the opposite. [Note]

Some again would transport Ethiopia into our Phœnicia, and make Joppa the scene of the adventures of Andromeda; [Note] and this not from any ignorance of the topography of those places, but by a kind of mythic fiction similar to those of Hesiod and other writers censured by Apollodorus, who, however, couples Homer with them, without, as it appears, any cause. He cites as instances what Homer relates of the Euxine and Egypt, and accuses him of ignorance for pretending to speak the actual truth, and then recounting fable, all the while ignorantly mistaking it for fact. Will anyone then accuse Hesiod of ignorance on account of his Hemicynes, [Note] his Macro- cephali, [Note] and his Pygmies; or Homer for his like fables, and amongst others the Pygmies themselves; or Alcman [Note] for describing the Steganopodes; [Note] or æschylus for his Cyno- cephali, [Note] Sternophthalmi, [Note] and Monommati; [Note] when amongst prose writers, and in works bearing the appearance of veritable history, we frequently meet with similar narrations, and that without any admission of their having inserted such myths. Indeed it becomes immediately evident that they have woven together a tissue of myths not through ignorance

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of the real facts, but merely to amuse by a deceptive narration of the impossible and marvellous. If they appear to do this in ignorance, it is because they can romance more frequently and with greater plausibility on those things which are uncertain and unknown. This Theopompus plainly confesses in the announcement of his intention to relate the fables in his history in a better style than Herodotus, Ctesias, Hellanicus, and those who had written on the affairs of India.



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