|Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].|
|<<Str. 1.2||Str. 1.3 (Greek English(2))||>>Str. 1.4|
ERATOSTHENES is guilty of another fault in so frequently referring to the works of men beneath his notice, sometimes for the purpose of refuting them; at others, when he agrees with them, in order to cite them as authorities. I allude to Damastes, and such as him, who even when they speak the truth, are utterly unworthy of being appealed to as authorities, or vouchers for the credibility of a statement. For such purposes the writings of trustworthy men should only be employed, who have accurately described much; and though perhaps they may have omitted many points altogether, and barely touched on others, are yet never guilty of wilfully falsifying their statements. To cite Damastes as an authority is little better than to quote the Bergæan, [Note] or Euemerus the Messenian, and those other scribblers whom Eratosthenes
himself sneers at for their absurdities. Why, he even points out as one of the follies of this Damastes, his observation that the Arabian Gulf was a lake; [Note] likewise the statement that Diotimus, the son of Strombicus and chief of the Athenian legation, sailed through Cilicia up the Cydnus [Note] into the river Choaspes, [Note] which flows by Susa, [Note] and so arrived at that capital after forty days' journey. This particular he professes to state on the authority of Diotimus himself, and then expresses his wonder whether the Cydnus could actually cross the Euphrates and Tigris in order to disgorge itself into the Choaspes. [Note]1.3.2
However, this is not all we have to say against him. Of many places he tells us that nothing is known, when in fact they have every one been accurately described. Then he warns us to be very cautious in believing what we are told on such matters, and endeavours by long and tedious arguments to show the value of his advice; swallowing at the same time the most ridiculous absurdities himself concerning the Euxine and Adriatic. Thus he believed the Bay of Issus [Note] to be the most easterly point of the Mediterranean, though Dioscurias, [Note] which is nearly at the bottom of the Pontus Euxinus, is, according to his own calculations, farther east by a distance of 3000 stadia. [Note] In describing the northern and farther parts of the Adriatic he cannot refrain from similar romancing, and gives credit to many strange narrations concerning what lies beyond the Pillars of Hercules, informing us of an Isle of Kerne there, and other places now nowhere to be found, which we shall speak of presently.
Having remarked that the ancients, whether out on piratical
excursions, or for the purposes of commerce, never ventured into the high seas, but crept along the coast, and instancing Jason, who leaving his vessels at Colchis penetrated into Armenia and Media on foot, he proceeds to tell us that formerly no one dared to navigate either the Euxine or the seas by Libya, Syria, and Cilicia. If by formerly he means periods so long past that we possess no record of them, it is of little consequence to us whether they navigated those seas or not, but if [he speaks] of times of which we know any thing, and if we are to place any trust in the accounts which have come down to us, every one will admit that the ancients appear to have made longer journeys both by sea and land than their successors; witness Bacchus, Hercules, nay Jason himself, and again Ulysses and Menelaus, of whom Homer tells us. It seems most probable that Theseus and Pirithous are indebted to some long voyages for the credit they afterwards obtained of having visited the infernal regions; and in like manner the Dioscuri [Note] gained the appellation of guardians of the sea, and the deliverers of sailors. [Note] The sovereignty of the seas exercised by Minos, and the navigation carried on by the Phœnicians, is well known. A little after the period of the Trojan war they had penetrated beyond the Pillars of Hercules, and founded cities as well there as to the midst of the African coast. [Note] Is it not correct to number amongst the ancients æneas, [Note] Antenor, [Note] the Heneti, and all the crowd of warriors, who, after the destruction of Troy, wandered over the face of the whole earth? For at the conclusion of the war
both the Greeks and Barbarians found themselves deprived, the one of their livelihood at home, the other of the fruits of their expedition; so that when Troy was overthrown, the victors, and still more the vanquished, who had survived the conflict, were compelled by want to a life of piracy; and we learn that they became the founders of many cities along the sea-coast beyond Greece, [Note] besides several inland settlements. [Note]1.3.3
Again, having discoursed on the advance of knowledge respecting the Geography of the inhabited earth, between the time of Alexander and the period when he was writing, Eratosthenes goes into a description of the figure of the earth; not merely of the habitable earth, an account of which would have been very suitable, but of the whole earth, which should certainly have been given too, but not in this disorderly manner. He proceeds to tell us that the earth is spheroidal, not however perfectly so, inasmuch as it has certain irregularities, he then enlarges on the successive changes of its form, occasioned by water, fire, earthquakes, eruptions, and the like; all of which is entirely out of place, for the spheroidal form of the whole earth is the result of the system of the universe, and the phenomena which he mentions do not in the least change its general form; such little matters being entirely lost in the great mass of the earth. Still they cause various peculiarities in different parts of our globe, and result from a variety of causes.1.3.4
He points out as a most interesting subject for disquisition the fact of our finding, often quite inland, two or three thousand stadia from the sea, vast numbers of muscle, oyster, and scallop-shells, and salt-water lakes. [Note] He gives as an
instance, that about the temple of Ammon, [Note] and along the road to it for the space of 3000 stadia, there are yet found a vast amount of oyster shells, many salt-beds, and salt springs bubbling up, besides which are pointed out numerous fragments of wreck which they say have been cast up through some opening, and dolphins placed on pedestals with the inscription, Of the delegates from Cyrene. Herein he agrees with the opinion of Strato the natural philosopher, and Xanthus of Lydia. Xanthus mentioned that in the reign of Artaxerxes there was so great a drought, that every river, lake, and well was dried up: and that in many places he had seen a long way from the sea fossil shells, some like cockles, others resembling scallop shells, also salt lakes in Armenia, Matiana, [Note] and Lower Phrygia, which induced him to believe that sea had formerly been where the land now was. Strato, who went more deeply into the causes of these phenomena, was of opinion that formerly there was no exit to the Euxine as now at Byzantium, but that the rivers running into it had forced a way through, and thus let the waters escape into the Propontis, and thence to the Hellespont. [Note] And that a like change had occurred in the Mediterranean. For the sea being overflowed by the rivers, had opened for itself a passage by the Pillars of Hercules, and thus, much that was formerly covered by water, had been left dry. [Note] He gives as the cause of this, that anciently the levels of the Mediterranean and Atlantic were not the same, and states that a bank of earth, the remains of the ancient separation of the two seas, is still stretched under water from Europe to Africa. He adds, that the Euxine is the most shallow, and the seas of Crete, Sicily, and Sardinia much deeper, which is occasioned by the number of large
rivers flowing into the Euxine both from the north and east, and so filling it up with mud, whilst the others preserve their depth. This is the cause of the remarkable sweetness of the Euxine Sea, and of the currents which regularly set towards the deepest part. He gives it as his opinion, that should the rivers continue to flow in the same direction, the Euxine will in time be filled up [by the deposits], since already the left side of the sea is little else than shallows, as also Salmydessus, [Note] and the shoals at the mouth of the Ister, and the desert of Scythia, [Note] which the sailors call the Breasts. Probably too the temple of Ammon was originally close to the sea, though now, by the continual deposit of the waters, it is quite inland: and he conjectures that it was owing to its being so near the sea that it became so celebrated and illustrious, and that it never would have enjoyed the credit it now possesses had it always been equally remote from the sea. Egypt too [he says] was formerly covered by sea as far as the marshes near Pelusium, [Note] Mount Casius, [Note] and the Lake Sirbonis. [Note] Even at the present time, when salt is being dug in Egypt, the beds are found under layers of sand and mingled with fossil shells, as if this district had formerly been under water, and as if the whole region about Casium and Gerrha [Note] had been shallows reaching to the Arabian Gulf. The sea afterwards receding left the land uncovered, and the Lake Sirbonis remained, which having afterwards forced itself a passage, became a marsh. In like manner the borders of the Lake Mœris resemble a sea-beach rather than the banks of a river. Every one will admit that formerly at various periods a great portion of the mainland has been covered and again left bare by the sea. Likewise that the land now covered by the sea is not all on the same level, any more than that whereon we dwell; which is now
uncovered and has experienced so many changes, as Eratosthenes has observed. Consequently in the reasoning of Xanthus there does not appear to be any thing out of place.1.3.5
In regard to Strato, however, we must remark that, leaving out of the question the many arguments he has properly stated, some of those which he has brought forward are quite inadmissible. For first he is inaccurate in stating that the beds of the interior and the exterior seas have not the same level, and that the depth of those two seas is different: whereas the cause why the sea is at one time raised, at another depressed, that it inundates certain places and again retreats, is not that the beds have different levels, some higher and some lower, but simply this, that the same beds are at one time raised, at another depressed, causing the sea to rise or subside with them; for having risen they cause an inundation, and when they subside the waters return to their former places. For if it is so, an inundation will of course accompany every sudden increase of the waters of the sea, [as in the spring-tides,] or the periodical swelling of rivers, in the one instance the waters being brought together from distant parts of the ocean, in the other, their volume being increased. But the risings of rivers are not violent and sudden, nor do the tides continue any length of time, nor occur irregularly; nor yet along the coasts of our sea do they cause inundations, nor any where else. Consequently we must seek for an explanation of the cause either in the stratum composing the bed of the sea, or in that which is overflowed; we prefer to look for it in the former, since by reason of its humidity it is more liable to shiftings and sudden changes of position, and we shall find that in these matters the wind is the great agent after all. But, I repeat it, the immediate cause of these phenomena, is not in the fact of one part of the bed of the ocean being higher or lower than another, but in the upheaving or depression of the strata on which the waters rest. Strato's hypothesis evidently originated in the belief that that which occurs in rivers is also the case in regard to the sea; viz. that there is a flow of water from the higher places. Otherwise he would not have attempted to account for the current he observed at the Strait of Byzantium in the manner he does, attributing it to the bed of the Euxine being
higher than that of the Propontis and adjoining ocean, and even attempting to explain the cause thereof: viz. that the bed of the Euxine is filled up and choked by the deposit of the rivers which flow into it; and its waters in consequence driven out into the neighbouring sea. The same theory he would apply in respect to the Mediterranean and Atlantic, alleging that the bed of the former is higher than that of the latter, in consequence of the number of rivers which flow into it, and the alluvium they carry along with them. In that case there ought to be a like influx at the Pillars and Calpe, [Note] as there is at Byzantium. But I waive this objection, as it might be asserted that the influx was the same in both places, but owing to the interference of the ebb and flow of the sea, became imperceptible.1.3.6
I rather make this inquiry:—If there were any reason why, before the outlet was opened at Byzantium, the bed of the Euxine (being deeper than either that of the Propontis [Note] or of the adjoining sea [Note]) should not gradually have become more shallow by the deposit of the rivers which flow into it, allowing it formerly either to have been a sea, or merely a vast lake greater than the Palus Mæotis? This proposition being conceded, I would next ask, whether before this the bed of the Euxine would not have been brought to the same level as the Propontis, and in that case, the pressure being counterpoised, the overflowing of the water have been thus avoided; and if after the Euxine had been filled up, the superfluous waters would not naturally have forced a passage and flowed off, and by their commingling and power have caused the Euxine and Propontis to flow into each other, and thus become one sea? no matter, as I said above, whether formerly it were a sea or a lake, though latterly certainly a sea. This also being conceded, they must allow that the present efflux depends neither upon the elevation nor the inclination of the bed, as Strato's theory would have us consider it.1.3.7
We would apply the same arguments to the whole of the Mediterranean and Atlantic, and account for the efflux of the former, not by any [supposed] difference between the elevation and inclination of its bed and of that of the Atlantic, but at-
tribute it to the number of rivers which empty themselves into it. Since, according to this supposition, it is not incredible that, had the whole of the Mediterranean Sea in times past been but a lake filled by the rivers, and having overflowed, it might have broken through the Strait at the Pillars, as through a cataract; and still continuing to swell more and more, the Atlantic in course of time would have become confluent by that channel, and have run into one level, the Mediterranean thus becoming a sea. In fine, the Physician did wrong in comparing the sea to rivers, for the latter are borne down as a descending stream, but the sea always maintains its level. The currents of straits depend upon other causes, not upon the accumulation of earth formed by the alluvial deposit from rivers, filling up the bed of the sea. This accumulation only goes on at the mouths of rivers. Such are what are called the Stethe or Breasts at the mouth of the Ister, [Note] the desert of the Scythians, and Salmydessus, which are partially occasioned by other winter-torrents as well; witness the sandy, low, and even coast of Colchis, [Note] at the mouth of the Phasis, [Note] the whole of the coast of Themiscyra, [Note] named the plain of the Amazons, near the mouths of the Thermodon [Note] and Iris, [Note] and the greater part of Sidene. [Note] It is the same with other rivers, they all resemble the Nile in forming an alluvial deposit at their mouths, some more, some less than others. Those rivers which carry but little soil with them deposit least, while others, which traverse an extended and soft country, and receive many torrents in their course, deposit the greatest quantity. Such for example is the river Pyramus, [Note] by which Cilicia has been considerably augmented, and concerning which an oracle has declared, This shall occur when the wide waters of the Pyramus have enlarged their banks as far as sacred Cyprus. [Note] This river becomes navigable from the middle of the plains of Cataonia, and entering Cilicia [Note] by the defiles of the Taurus, discharges itself into the sea which flows between that country and the island of Cyprus.
These river deposits are prevented from advancing further into the sea by the regularity of the ebb and flow, which
continually drive them back. For after the manner of living
creatures, which go on inhaling and exhaling their breath continually, so the sea in a like way keeps up a constant motion
in and out of itself. Any one may observe who stands on the
sea-shore when the waves are in motion, the regularity with
which they cover, then leave bare, and then again cover up
his feet. This agitation of the sea produces a continual movement on its surface, which even when it is most tranquil has
considerable force, and so throws all extraneous matters on
to the land, and
Flings forth the salt weed on the shore. [Note]Iliad ix. 7.
O'er the rocks that breast the flood
Iliad iv. 425.
Borne turgid, scatter far the showery spray, [Note]
Loud sounds the roar of waves ejected wide. [Note]Iliad xvii. 265.
The wave, as it advances, possesses a kind of power, which some call the purging of the sea, to eject all foreign substances. It is by this force that dead bodies and wrecks are cast on shore. But on retiring it does not possess sufficient power to carry back into the sea either dead bodies, wood, or even the lightest substances, such as cork, which may have been cast out by the waves. And by this means when places next the sea fall down, being undermined by the wave, the earth and the water charged with it are cast back again; and the weight [of the mud] working at the same time in conjunction with the force of the advancing tide, it is the sooner brought to settle at the bottom, instead of being
carried out far into the sea. The force of the river current ceases at a very little distance beyond its mouth. Otherwise, supposing the rivers had an uninterrupted flow, by degrees the whole ocean would be filled in from the beach onwards, by the alluvial deposits. And this would be inevitable even were the Euxine deeper than the sea of Sardinia, than which a deeper sea has never been sounded, measuring, as it does, according to Posidonius, about 1000 fathoms. [Note]1.3.10
Some, however, may be disinclined to admit this explanation, and would rather have proof from things more manifest to the senses, and which seem to meet us at every turn. Now deluges, earthquakes, eruptions of wind, and risings in the bed of the sea, these things cause the rising of the ocean, as sinking of the bottom causes it to become lower. It is not the case that small volcanic or other islands can be raised up from the sea, and not large ones, nor that all islands can, but not continents, since extensive sinkings of the land no less than small ones have been known; witness the yawning of those chasms which have ingulfed whole districts no less than their cities, as is said to have happened to Bura, [Note] Bizone, [Note] and many other towns at the time of earthquakes: and there is no more reason why one should rather think Sicily to have been disjoined from the main-land of Italy than cast up from the bottom of the sea by the fires of ætna, as the Lipari and Pithecussan [Note] Isles have been.1.3.11
However, so nice a fellow is Eratosthenes, that though
he professes himself a mathematician, [Note] he rejects entirely the dictum of Archimedes, who, in his work On Bodies in Suspension, says that all liquids when left at rest assume a spherical form, having a centre of gravity similar to that of the earth. A dictum which is acknowledged by all who have the slightest pretensions to mathematical sagacity. He says that the Mediterranean, which, according to his own description, is one entire sea, has not the same level even at points quite close to each other; and offers us the authority of engineers for this piece of folly, notwithstanding the affirmation of mathematicians that engineering is itself only one division of the mathematics. He tells us that Demetrius [Note] intended to cut through the Isthmus of Corinth, to open a passage for his fleet, but was prevented by his engineers, who, having taken measurements, reported that the level of the sea at the Gulf of Corinth was higher than at Cenchrea, [Note] so that if he cut through the isthmus, not only the coasts near ægina, but even ægina itself, with the neighbouring islands, would be laid completely under water, while the passage would prove of little value. According to Eratosthenes, it is this which occasions the current in straits, especially the current in the Strait of Sicily, [Note] where effects similar to the flow and ebb of the tide are remarked. The current there changes twice in the course of a day and night, like as in that period the tides of the sea flow and ebb twice. In the Tyrrhenian sea [Note] the current which is called descendent, and which runs towards the sea of Sicily, as if it followed an inclined plane, corresponds to the flow of the tide in the ocean. We may remark, that this current corresponds to the flow both in the time of its commencement and cessation. For it commences at the rising and setting of the moon, and recedes when that satellite attains its meridian, whether above [in the zenith] or below the earth [in the nadir]. In the same way occurs the opposite or ascending current, as it is called. It corresponds to
the ebb of the ocean, and commences as soon as the moon has reached either zenith or nadir, and ceases the moment she reaches the point of her rising or setting. [So far Eratosthenes.]1.3.12
The nature of the ebb and flow has been sufficiently treated of by Posidonius and Athenodorus. Concerning the flux and reflux of the currents, which also may be explained by physics, it will suffice our present purpose to observe, that in the various straits these do not resemble each other, but each strait has its own peculiar current. Were they to resemble each other,. the current at the Strait of Sicily [Note] would not change merely twice during the day, (as Eratosthenes himself tells us it does,) and at Chalcis seven times; [Note] nor again that of Constantinople, which does not change at all, but runs always in one direction from the Euxine to the Propontis, and, as Hipparchus tells us, sometimes ceases altogether. However, if they did all depend on one cause, it would not be that which Eratosthenes has assigned, namely, that the various seas have different levels. The kind of inequality he supposes would not even be found in rivers only for the cataracts; and where these cataracts occur, they occasion no ebbing, but have one continued downward flow, which is caused by the inclination both of the flow and the surface; and therefore though they have no flux or reflux they do not remain still, on account of a principle of flowing which is inherent in them; at the same time they cannot be on the same level, but one must be higher and one lower than another. But who ever imagined the surface of the ocean to be on a slope, especially those who follow a system which supposes the four bodies we call elementary, to be spherical. [Note] For water is not like the earth, which being of a solid nature is capable of permanent depressions and risings, but by its force of gravity spreads equally over the earth,
and assumes that kind of level which Archimedes has assigned it.1.3.13
To what we cited before concerning the temple of Ammon and Egypt, Eratosthenes adds, that to judge from appearances, Mount Casius [Note] was formerly covered by sea, and the whole district now known as Gerra lay under shoal water touching the bay of the Erythræan Sea, [Note] but was left dry on the union [Note] of the [Mediterranean] Sea [with the ocean]. A certain amphibology lurks here under this description of the district lying under shoal water and touching the bay of the Erythræan Sea; for to touch [Note] both means to be close to, and also to be in actual contact with, so that when applied to water it would signify that one flows into the other. I understand him to mean, that so long as the strait by the Pillars of Hercules remained closed, these marshes covered with shoal- water extended as far as the Arabian Gulf, but on that passage being forced open, the Mediterranean, discharging itself by the strait, became lower, and the land was left dry.
On the other hand, Hipparchus understands by the term touching, that the Mediterranean, being over-full, flowed into the Erythræan Sea, and he inquires how it could happen, that as the Mediterranean flowed out by this new vent at the Pillars of Hercules, the Erythræan Sea, which was all one with it, did not flow away too, and thus become lower, but has always retained the same level? and since Eratosthenes supposes the whole exterior sea to be confluent, it follows that the Western Ocean [Note] and the Erythræan Sea are all one; and thus [remarks Hipparchus] as a necessary consequence, the sea beyond the Pillars of Hercules, the Erythræan Sea, and that also which is confluent with it, [Note] have all the same level.
14. But, Eratosthenes would reply, I never said that, in con- sequence of the repletion of the Mediterranean, it actually flowed into the Erythræan Sea, but only that it approached very near thereto: besides, it does not follow, that in one and the self-same sea, the level of its surface must be all the same; to instance the Mediterranean itself, no one, surely, will say it is of the same height at Lechæum [Note] and at Cenchrea. [Note] This answer Hipparchus anticipated in his Critique; and being aware of the opinion of Eratosthenes, was justified in attacking his arguments. But he ought not to have taken it for granted, that when Eratosthenes said the exterior sea was all one, he necessarily implied that its level was every where the same.1.3.15
Hipparchus rejects as false the [account] of the inscription on the dolphins by the delegates from Cyrene, but the reason he assigns for this is insufficient, viz. that though Cyrene was built in times of which we have record, no one mentions the oracle, [Note] as being situated on the sea-shore. But what matters it that no historian has recorded this, when amongst the other proofs from which we infer that this place was formerly on the sea-shore, we number this of the dolphins which were set up, and the inscription, by the delegates from Cyrene? [Note] Hipparchus agrees that if the bottom of the sea were raised up, it would lift the water with it, and might therefore overflow the land as far as the locality of the oracle, or more than 3000 stadia from the shore; but he will not allow that the rising would be sufficient to overflow the Island of Pharos and the major portion of Egypt, since [he says] the elevation would not be sufficient to submerge these. He alleges that if before the opening of the passage at the Pillars of Hercules, the Mediterranean had been swollen to such an extent as Eratosthenes affirms, the whole of Libya, and the greater part of Europe and Asia, must long ago have been buried beneath its
waves. Besides, he adds, in this case the Euxine would in certain places have been connected with the Adriatic, since in the vicinity of the Euxine, [near to its source,) [Note] the Ister is divided in its course, and flows into either sea, owing to the peculiarities of the ground. [Note] To this we object, that the Ister does not take its rise at all in the vicinity of the Euxine, but, on the contrary, beyond the mountains of the Adriatic; neither does it flow into both the seas, but into the Euxine alone, and only becomes divided just above its mouths. This latter, however, was an error into which he fell in common with many of his predecessors. They supposed that there was another river in addition to the former Ister, bearing the same name, which emptied itself into the Adriatic, and from which the country of Istria, through which it flowed, gained that appellation. It was by this river they believed Jason returned on his voyage from Colchis.1.3.16
In order to lessen surprise at such changes as we have mentioned as causes of the inundations and other similar phenomena which are supposed to have produced Sicily, the islands of æolus, [Note] and the Pitllecussæ, it may be as well to compare with these others of a similar nature, which either now are, or else have been observed in other localities. A large array of such facts placed at once before the eye would serve to allay our astonishment; while that which is uncommon startles our perception, and manifests our general ignorance of the occurrences which take place in nature and physical existence. For instance, supposing any one should narrate the circumstances concerning Thera and the Therasian Islands, situated in the strait between Crete and the Cyrenaic, [Note] Thera being itself the metropolis of Cyrene; or those [in connexion
with] Egypt, and many parts of Greece. For midway between Thera and Therasia flames rushed forth from the sea for the space of four days; causing the whole of it to boil and be all on fire; and after a little an island twelve stadia in circumference, composed of the burning mass, was thrown up, as if raised by machinery. After the cessation of this phenomenon, the Rhodians, then masters of the sea, were the first who dared to sail to the place, and they built there on the island a temple to the Asphalian [Note] Neptune. Posidonius remarks, that during an earthquake which occurred in Phœnicia, a city situated above Sidon was swallowed up, and that nearly two-thirds of Sidon also fell, but not suddenly, and therefore with no great loss of life. That the same occurred, though in a lighter form, throughout nearly the whole of Syria, and was felt even in some of the Cyclades and the Island of Eubœa, [Note] so that the fountains of Arethusa, a spring in Chalcis, were completely obstructed, and after some time forced for themselves another opening, and the whole island ceased not to experience shocks until a chasm was rent open in the earth in the plain of Lelanto, [Note] from which poured a river of burning mud.1.3.17
Many writers have recorded similar occurrences, but it will suffice us to narrate those which have been collected by Demetrius of Skepsis.
Apropos of that passage of Homer:—
And now they reach'd the running rivulets clear,
Iliad xxii. 147.
Where from Scamander's dizzy flood arise
Two fountains, tepid one, from which a smoke
Issues voluminous as from a fire,
The other, even in summer heats, like hail
For cold, or snow, or crystal stream frost-bound: [Note]
and says we must reckon the failing of the hot spring as the
cause. He goes on to relate certain catastrophes recorded by
Democles, how formerly in the reign of Tantalus [Note]
During my stay at Alexandria in Egypt the sea rose so high near Pelusium [Note] and Mount Casius [Note] as to overflow the land, and convert the mountain into an island, so that a journey from Casius into Phoenicia might have been undertaken by water. We should not be surprised therefore if in time to come the isthmus [Note] which separates the Egyptian sea [Note] from the Erythræan, [Note] should part asunder or subside, and becoming a strait, connect the outer and inner seas, [Note] similarly to what has taken place at the strait of the Pillars.
At the commencement of this work will be found some other narrations of a similar kind, which should be considered at the same time, and which will greatly tend to strengthen our belief both in these works of nature and also in its other changes.1.3.18
The Piræus having been formerly an island, and lying πέαν, or off the shore, is said to have thus received its name. Leucas, [Note] on the contrary, has been made an island by the Corinthians, who cut through the isthmus which connected it with the shore [of the mainland]. It is concerning this place that Laertes is made to say,
Oh that I possessed
Odyss. xxiv. 376.
Such vigour now as when in arms I took
Nericus, continental city fair. [Note]
Iliad ii. 507.
A record next for her illustrious sons,
Vine-bearing Arne. Thou wast also there
affirm that certain cities of Trerus were also overwhelmed, in
the neighbourhood of Thrace. Artemita, formerly one of the
Echinades, [Note] is now part of the mainland; the same has happened to some other of the islets near the Achelous, occasioned,
it is said, in the same way, by the alluvium carried into the
sea by that river, and Hesiod [Note] assures us that a like fate
awaits them all. Some of the ætolian promontories were
formerly islands. Asteria, [Note] called by Homer Asteris, is no
longer what it was.
There is a rocky isle
Odyssey iv. 844.
In the mid-sea, Samos the rude between
And Ithaca, not large, named Asteris.
It hath commodious havens, into which
A passage clear opens on either side. [Note]
Myrsilus tells us that Antissa [Note] was formerly an island, and so called because it was opposite to Lesbos, [Note] then named Issa. Now, however, it forms one of the towns of Lesbos. [Note] Some have believed that Lesbos itself has been disjoined from Mount Ida in the same way as Prochytas [Note] and Pithecussa [Note] from Misenum, [Note] Capreæ [Note] from the Athenæum, Sicily from
Rhegium, [Note] and Ossa from Olympus. [Note] Many changes similar
to these have occurred elsewhere. The river Ladon in Arcadia ceased for some time its flow. Duris informs us that
the Rhagæ [Note] in Media gained that appellation from chasms
made in the ground near the Gates of the Caspian [Note] by earthquakes, in which many cities and villages were destroyed, and
the rivers underwent various changes. Ion, in his satirical
composition of Omphale, has said of Eubœa,
The light wave of the Euripus has divided the land of Eubœa from
Bœotia; separating the projecting land by a strait.
Demetrius of Callatis, speaking of the earthquakes which formerly occurred throughout the whole of Greece, states that a great portion of the Lichadian Islands and of Kenæum [Note] were submerged; that the hot springs of ædepsus [Note] and Thermopylæ were suppressed for three days, and that when they commenced to run again those of ædepsus gushed from new fountains. That at Oreus [Note] on the sea-coast the wall and nearly seven hundred houses fell at once. That the greater part of Echinus, [Note] Phalara, [Note] and Heraclæa of Trachis [Note] were thrown down, Phalara being overturned from its very foundations. That almost the same misfortune occurred to the Lamians [Note] and inhabitants of Larissa; that Scarpheia [Note] was overthrown from its foundations, not less than one thousand seven hundred persons being swallowed up, and at
Thronium [Note] more than half that number. That a torrent of water gushed forth taking three directions, one to Scarphe and Thronium, another to Thermopylæ, and a third to the plains of Daphnus in Phocis. That the springs of [many] rivers were for several days dried up; that the course of the Sperchius [Note] was changed, thus rendering navigable what formerly were highways; that the Boagrius [Note] flowed through another channel; that many parts of Alope, Cynus, and Opus were injured, [Note] and the castle of Œum, which commands the latter city, entirely overturned. That part of the wall of Elateia [Note] was thrown down; and that at Alponus, [Note] during the celebration of the games in honour of Ceres, twenty-five maidens, who had mounted a tower to enjoy the show exhibited in the port, were precipitated into the sea by the falling of the tower. They also record that a large fissure was made [by the water] through the midst of the island of Atalanta, [Note] opposite Eubœa, [Note] sufficient for ships to sail in; that the course of the channel was in places as broad as twenty stadia between the plains; and that a trireme being raised [thereby] out of the docks, was carried over the walls.1.3.21
Those who desire to instil into us that more perfect freedom from [ignorant] wonder, which Democritus and all other philosophers so highly extol, should add the changes which have been produced by the migrations of various tribes: we should thus be inspired with courage, steadiness, and composure. For instance, the Western Iberians, [Note] removed to the regions beyond the Euxine and Colchis, being separated from Arme-
nia, according to Apollodorus, by the Araxes, [Note] but rather by the Cyrus [Note] and Moschican mountains. [Note] The expedition of the Egyptians into Ethiopia [Note] and Colchis. The migration of the Heneti, [Note] who passed from Paphlagonia into the country bordering on the Adriatic Gulf. Similar emigrations were also undertaken by the nations of Greece, the Ionians, Dorians, Achaians, and æolians; and the ænians, [Note] now next neighbours to the ætolians, formerly dwelt near Dotium [Note] and Ossa, beyond the Perrhæbi; [Note] the Perrhæbi too are but wanderers here themselves. Our present work furnishes numerous instances of the same kind. Some of these are familiar to most readers, but the migrations of the Carians, the Treres, the Teucrians, and the Galatæ or Gauls, [Note] are not so generally known. Nor yet for the most part are the expeditions of their chiefs, for instance, Madys the Scythian, Tearko the Ethiopian, Cobus of Trerus, Sesostris and Psammeticus the Egyptians; nor are those of the Persians from Cyrus to Xerxes familiar to every one. The Kimmerians, or a separate tribe of them, called the Treres, have frequently overrun the countries to the right of the Euxine and those adjacent to them, bursting now into Paphlagonia, now into Phrygia, as they did when, according to report, Midas [Note] came to his death by drinking bull's blood. Lygdamis led his followers into Lydia, passed through Ionia, took Sardis, but was slain in Cilicia. The Kimmerians and Treres frequently made similar incursions, until at last, as it is reported, these latter, together with [their chief] Cobus, were
driven out by Madys, king of the Scythians. [Note] But enough has been said in this place on the general history of the earth, as each country will have a particular account.1.3.22
We must now return to the point whence we digressed. Herodotus having observed that there could be no such people as Hyperborean, inasmuch as there were no Hypernotii, [Note] Eratosthenes calls this argument ridiculous, and compares it to the sophism, that there are no epichærekaki, [Note] inasmuch as there are no epichæragathi; [Note] [adding] perhaps there are Hypernotii; since at all events in Ethiopia Notus does not blow, although lower down it does.
It would indeed be strange, since winds blow under every latitude, and especially the southern wind called Notus, if any region could be found where this latter was not felt. On the contrary, not only does Ethiopia experience our Notus, but also the whole country which lies above as far as the equator. [Note]
If Herodotus must be blamed at all, it is for supposing that the Hyperboreans were so named in consequence of Boreas, or the north wind, not blowing upon them. The poets are allowed much licence in their modes of expression; but their commentators, who endeavour always to give us the correct view, tell us that the people who dwelt in the extreme north, were styled Hyperboreans. The pole is the boundary of the northern
winds, and the equator of the southern; these winds have no other limit.1.3.23
Eratosthenes next finds fault with the writers who fill their narrative with stories evidently feigned and impossible; some as mere fable, but others as history, which did not deserve mention. In the discussion of a subject like his, he should not have wasted his time about such trifles. Such is the way in which this writer completes the First Book of his Memoirs.
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