Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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1.2.40

Starting from these premises, the poet, in conformity both with general custom and his own practice, narrates some circumstances as they actually occurred, and paints others in the colours of fiction. He follows history when he tells us of æetes and Jason also, when he talks of Argo, and on the authority of [the actual city of æa], feigns his city of ææa, when he settles Euneos in Lemnos, and makes that island friendly to Achilles, and when, in imitation of Medea, he makes the sorceress Circe Sister by birth of the all-wise æetes, [Note]
Odyssey x. 137.
he adds the fiction of the entrance of the Argonauts into the exterior ocean as the sequel to their wanderings on their return home. Here, supposing the previous statements admitted, the truth of the phrase the renowned Argo, [Note] is evident,

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since, in that case, the expedition was directed to a populous and well-known country. But if, as [Demetrius] of Skepsis asserts, on the authority of Mimnermus, æetes dwelt by the Ocean, and Jason was sent thither far east by Pelias, to bring back the fleece, it neither seems probable that such an expedition would have been undertaken into unknown and obscure countries after the Fleece, nor could a voyage to lands desert, uninhabited, and so far remote from us, be considered either glorious or renowned.

[Here follow the words of Demetrius.] Nor as yet had Jason, having accomplished the arduous journey, carried off the splendid fleece from æa, fulfilling the dangerous mission of the insolent Pelias, nor had they ploughed the glorious wave of the ocean. And again: The city of æetes, where the rays of the swift sun recline on their golden bed by the shore of the ocean, which the noble Jason visited.

CHAPTER III. 1.3.1

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

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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

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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

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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]



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