Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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10.3.23

Although we are not fond of fabulous stories, yet we have expatiated upon these, because they belong to subjects of a theological nature.

All discussion respecting the gods requires an examination of ancient opinions, and of fables, since the ancients expressed enigmatically their physical notions concerning the nature of things, and always intermixed fable with their discoveries. It is not easy therefore to solve these enigmas exactly, but if we lay before the reader a multitude of fabulous tales, some consistent with each other, others which are contradictory, we

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may thus with less difficulty form conjectures about the truth. For example, mythologists probably represented the ministers of the gods, and the gods themselves, as coursing over the mountains, and their enthusiastic behaviour, for the same reason that they considered the gods to be celestial beings, and to exercise a providential care over all things, and especially over signs and presages. Mining, hunting, and a search after things useful for the purposes of life, appeared to have a relation to this coursing over the mountains, but juggling and magic to be connected with enthusiastic behaviour, religious rites, and divination. Of such a nature, and connected in particular with the improvement of the arts of life, were the Dionysiac and Orphic arts. But enough of this subject.

CHAPTER IV. 10.4.1

HAVING described the islands about the Peloponnesus, and other islands also, some of which are upon, and others in front of, the Corinthian Gulf, we are next to speak of Crete, [Note] (for it belongs to the Peloponnesus,) and the islands near Crete, among which are the Cyclades and the Sporades. Some of these are worthy of notice, others are inconsiderable. 10.4.2

At present we are to speak first of Crete.

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According to Eudoxus, it is situated in the ægæan sea, but he ought not to have described its situation in that manner, but have said, that it lies between Cyrenaica and the part of Greece comprehended between Sunium and Laconia, [Note] extending in length in the direction from west to east, and parallel to these countries; [Note] that it is washed on the north by the ægæan and Cretan seas, and on the south by the African, which joins the Egyptian sea.

The western extremity of the island is near Phalasarna; [Note] its breadth is about 200 stadia, and divided into two promontories; of which the southern is called Criu-Metopon, (or Ram's head,) and that on the north, Cimarus. [Note] The eastern promontory is Samonium, [Note] which does not stretch much further towards the east than Sunium. [Note] 10.4.3

Sosicrates, who, according to Apollodorus, had an exact knowledge of this island, determines its length (not?) [Note] to exceed 2300 stadia, and its breadth (about 300), [Note] so that according to Sosicrates the circuit of the island is not more than 5000 stadia, but Artemidorus makes it 4100. Hieronymus

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says, that its length is 2000 stadia, and its breadth irregular, and that the circuit would exceed the number of stadia assigned by Artemidorus. Throughout one-third of its length, (beginning from the western parts, the island is of a tolerable width). [Note] Then there is an isthmus of about 100 stadia, on the northern shore of which is a settlement, called Amphimalla; [Note] on the southern shore is Phœnix, [Note] belonging to the Lampeis.

The greatest breadth is in the middle of the island.

Here again the shores approach, and form an isthmus narrower than the former, of about 60 stadia in extent, reckoning from Minoa, [Note] in the district of the Lyctii, [Note] to Therapytna, [Note] and the African sea. The city is on the bay. The shores then terminate in a pointed promontory, the Samonium, looking towards ægypt and the islands of the Rhodians. [Note] 10.4.4

The island is mountainous and woody, but has fertile valleys.

The mountains towards the west are called Leuca, or the White Mountains, [Note] not inferior in height to the Taygetum, [Note] and extending in length about 300 stadia. They form a ridge, which terminates at the narrow parts (the isthmus). In the middle of the island, in the widest part, is (Ida), [Note] the highest of the mountains there. Its compass is about 600 stadia. It is surrounded by the principal cities. There are other mountains equal in height to the White Mountains, some of which terminate on the south, others towards the east. 10.4.5

From the Cyrenæan [Note] territory to Criu-metopon [Note] is a

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voyage of two days and nights. From Cimarus [to Malea] are 700 stadia. [Note] In the midway is Cythera. [Note] From the promontory Samonium [Note] to ægypt a ship sails in four days and nights, but, according to other writers, in three. Some say that it is a voyage of 5000 stadia; others, of still less than this. According to Eratosthenes, the distance from Cyrenaica to Criu-Metopon is 2000 stadia, and thence to Peloponnesus less than [1000]. [Note]



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 10.3.20 Str. 10.4.3 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 10.4.9

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