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

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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.

CHAPTER IV. 1.4.1

IN his Second Book Eratosthenes endeavours to correct some errors in geography, and offers his own views on the subject, any mistakes in which we shall endeavour in our turn to set right. He is correct in saying that the inductions of mathematics and natural philosophy should be employed, and that if the earth is spheroidal like the universe, it is inhabited in all parts; together with some other things of this nature. Later writers do not agree with him as to the size of the earth, [Note] nor admit his measurement. However Hipparchus, when noting the celestial appearances for each particular locality, adopts his admeasurements, saying that those taken for the meridian of Meroe, [Note] Alexandria, and the Dnieper, differ but very slightly from the truth. Eratosthenes then enters into a long discussion concerning the figure of the globe, proving that the form of the earth together with the water is spheroidal, as also the heavens. This however we imagine was foreign to his purpose, and should have been disposed of in the compass of a few words. 1.4.2

After this he proceeds to determine the breadth of the habitable earth: he tells us, that measuring from the meridian of Meroe [Note] to Alexandria, there are 10,000 stadia.

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From thence to the Hellespont [Note] about 8100. Again; from thence to the Dnieper, 5000; and thence to the parallel of Thule, [Note] which Pytheas says is six days' sail north from Britain, and near the Frozen Sea, other 11,500. To which if we add 3400 stadia above Meroe in order to include the Island of the Egyptians, [Note] the Cinnamon country, and Taprobane, [Note] there will be in all 38,000 stadia. 1.4.3

We will let pass the rest of his distances, since they are something near,—but that the Dnieper is under the same parallel as Thule, what man in his senses could ever agree to this? Pytheas, who has given us the history of Thule, is known to be a man upon whom no reliance can be placed, and other writers who have seen Britain and Ierne, [Note] although they tell us of many small islands round Britain, make no mention whatever of Thule. The length of Britain itself is nearly the same as that of Keltica, [Note] opposite to which it extends. Altogether it is not more than 5000 stadia in length, its outermost points corresponding to those of the opposite continent. In fact the extreme points of the two countries lie opposite to each other, the eastern extremity to the eastern, and the western to the western: the eastern points are situated so close as to be within sight of each other, both at Kent and at the mouths of the Rhine. But Pytheas tells us that the island [of Britain] is more than 20,000 stadia in length, and that Kent is some days' sail from France. With regard to the locality of the Ostimii, and the countries beyond the Rhine, [Note] as far as Scythia, he is altogether mistaken. The veracity of a writer who has been thus false in describing countries with which we are well acquainted, should not be too much trusted in regard to unknown places. 1.4.4

Further, Hipparchus and many others are of opinion that the parallel of latitude of the Dnieper does not differ

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from that of Britain; since that of Byzantium and Marseilles are the same. The degree of shadow from the gnomon which Pytheas states he observed at Marseilles being exactly equal to that which Hipparchus says he found at Byzantium; the periods of observation being in both cases similar. [Note] Now from Marseilles to the centre of Britain is not more than 5000 stadia; and if from the centre of Britain we advance north not more than 4000 stadia, we arrive at a temperature in which it is scarcely possible to exist. Such indeed is that of Ierne. [Note] Consequently the far region in which Eratosthenes places Thule must be totally uninhabitable. By what guesswork he arrived at the conclusion that between the latitude of Thule and the Dnieper there was a distance of 11,500 stadia I am unable to divine.



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