Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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CHAPTER I. 2.1.1

IN the Third Book of his Geography Eratosthenes furnishes us with a chart of the habitable earth. This he divides into two portions, by a line running from east to west parallel to the equator. He makes the Pillars of Hercules the boundary of this line to the west, and to the east the farthest ridges of those mountains which bound India on the north. From the Pillars he draws the line through the Strait of Sicily, [Note] and the southern extremities of Peloponnesus and Attica, to Rhodes and the Gulf of Issus. [Note] He says, Through the whole of this distance the line mentioned is drawn across the sea [Note] and adjacent continents; the whole length of the Mediterranean as far as Cilicia extending in that direction. Thence it runs nearly in a straight line along the whole chain of the Taurus to India. The Taurus continuing in a straight line from the Pillars divides Asia through its whole length into two halves, north and south. So that both the Taurus and the sea from the Pillars hither [Note] lie under the parallel of Athens. 2.1.2

He then declares that the ancient geographical chart wants revision; that in it the eastern portion of the Taurus

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is made to run too far north, India itself being also too much drawn in the same direction. One proof which he offers in support of this is, that the most southern extremities of India are under the same latitude as Meroe, as attested by many, both from astronomical observations and the temperature of the climate. From thence to the most northerly point by the mountains of the Caucasus, [Note] there are 15,000 stadia, according to Patrocles, a writer whom we are bound to believe, both on account of his worth, and the vast amount of his geographical attainments. Now since the distance from Meroe to the parallel of Athens is nearly the same, the most northerly points of India next to the Caucasian mountains ought to be under the same degree of latitude. 2.1.3

But there is another method (says Eratosthenes) of proving this. The distance from the Gulf of Issus to the Euxine, proceeding in a northerly direction towards Amisus [Note] and Sinope, [Note] is about 3000 stadia, which is as much as the supposed extent of the mountains [of the Taurus]. [Note] The traveller who directs his course from Amisus due east, [Note] arrives first at Colchis, then at the high lands by the Hyrcanian Sea, [Note] afterwards at the road leading to Bactra, [Note] and beyond to the Scythians; having the mountains always on the right. The same line drawn through Amisus westward, crosses the Propontis and Hellespont. From Meroe to the Hellespont there are not more than 18,000 stadia. [Note] The distance is just the same from the southern extremity of India to the land of Bactria, if we add to the 15,000 stadia of that country the 3000 which its mountains occupy in breadth. 2.1.4

Hipparchus tries to invalidate this view of Eratosthenes, by sneering at the proofs on which it rests. Patrocles, he says, merits little credit, being contradicted by the two writers

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Deimachus and Megasthenes, who say that the distance [Note] taken from the southern ocean, is in some places 20,000, in others 30,000 stadia; that in this assertion they are supported by the ancient charts, and he considers it absurd to require us to put implicit faith in Patrocles alone, when there is so much testimony against him; or that the ancient charts should be corrected; but rather that they should be left as they are until we have something more certain on the subject. 2.1.5

This argument, I think, is in many instances unfounded. Eratosthenes availed himself of the statements of many writers, although Hipparchus alleges he was solely led by Patrocles. Who then are the authors of the statement that the southern extremity of India is under the same parallel as Meroe; and who are they who estimate [Note] the distance from Meroe to the parallel passing through Athens? Or who, again, were those who asserted that the whole breadth occupied by the mountains [Note] was equal to the distance from Cilicia to Amisus? Or who made known that, travelling from Amisus, the course lay in a straight line due east through Colchis, the [sea of] Hyrcania, so on to Bactria, and beyond this to the eastern ocean, [Note] the mountains being always on the right hand; and that this same line carried west in a straight line, traverses the Propontis and the Hellespont? These things Eratosthenes advances on the testimony of men who had been on the spot, and from the study of those numerous memoirs which he had for reference in that noble library [Note] which Hipparchus himself acknowledges to be gigantic. 2.1.6

Besides, the credibility of Patrocles can be proved by a variety of evidence—the princes [Note] who confided to him so important trusts—the authors who follow his statements—and those, too, who criticise them, whose names Hipparchus has recorded. Since whenever these are refuted, the credit of Patrocles is by so much advanced. Nor does Patrocles appear to state any thing improbable when he says that the army

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of Alexander took but a very hasty view of every thing [in India], but Alexander himself a more exact one, causing the whole country to be described by men well acquainted with it. Which description he says was afterwards put into his hands by Xenocles the treasurer. 2.1.7

Again, in the second volume of his Commentaries, Hipparchus accuses Eratosthenes of himself throwing discredit on the statement of Patrocles, on account of his differing with Megasthenes, as to the length of India on its northern side; [Note] Megasthenes stating the length at 16,000 stadia, and Patrocles at 1000 less. Being biassed by a certain Itinerary, Eratosthenes was led to reject them both on account of this discrepancy, and to follow the Itinerary. If then merely the difference of 1000 stadia is sufficient to cause the authority of Patrocles to be rejected, how much more should this be the case when we find a difference of 8000 stadia between his statement and that of two writers who agree perfectly in theirs, that the breadth of India is 20,000 stadia, while he gives only 12,000! 2.1.8

We reply, that [Eratosthenes] did not object [to the statement of Patrocles] merely because it differed [from that of Megasthenes], but because the statement of this latter as to the stadia was confirmed by the Itinerary, an authority of no mean importance. There is nothing wonderful in this, that though a certain statement may be credible, another may be more credible; and that while in some instances we follow the former, in others we may dissent from it on finding a more trust-worthy guide. It is ridiculous to say that the greater the difference of one writer from others, the less he should be trusted. On the contrary, such a rule would be more applicable in regard to small differences; for in little particulars the ordinary observer and the man of great ability are equally liable to err. On the other hand, in great matters, the ordinary run of men are more like to be deceived than the man of superior talent, to whom consequently in such cases greater deference is paid. 2.1.9

Generally speaking, the men who hitherto have written on the affairs of India, were a set of liars. Deimachus holds the first place in the list, Megasthenes comes next, while

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Onesicritus and Nearchus, with others of the same class, manage to stammer out a few words [of truth]. Of this we became the more convinced whilst writing the history of Alexander. No faith whatever can be placed in Deimachus and Megasthenes. They coined the fables concerning men with ears large enough to sleep in, men without any mouths, without noses, with only one eye, with spider-legs, and with fingers bent backward. They renewed Homer's fable concerning the battles of the Cranes and Pygmies, and asserted the latter to be three spans high. They told of ants digging for gold, of Pans with wedge-shaped heads, of serpents swallowing down oxen and stags, horns and all; meantime, as Eratosthenes has observed, reciprocally accusing each other of falsehood. Both of these men were sent ambassadors to Palimbothra, [Note]—Megasthenes to Sandrocottus, Deimachus to Allitrochades his son; and such are the notes of their residence abroad, which, I know not why, they thought fit to leave. Patrocles certainly does not resemble them; nor do any other of the authorities consulted by Eratosthenes contain such absurdities. 2.1.10

[Note] If the meridian of Rhodes and Byzantium has been rightly determined to be the same, then that of Cilicia and Amisus has likewise been rightly determined; many observations having proved that the lines are parallel, and that they never impinge on each other. 2.1.11

In like manner, that the voyage from Amisus to Colchis, and the route to the Caspian, and thence on to Bactra, are both due east, is proved by the winds, the seasons, the fruits, and even the sun-risings. Frequently evidence such as this, and general agreement, are more to be relied on than the measurement taken by means of instruments. Hipparchus himself was not wholly indebted to instruments and geometrical calculations for his statement that the Pillars and Cilicia lie in a direct line due east. For

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that part of it included between the Pillars and the Strait of Sicily he rests entirely on the assertion of sailors. It is therefore incorrect to say that, because we cannot exactly determine the duration of the longest and shortest days, nor the degree of shadow of the gnomon throughout the mountainous region between Cilicia and India, that therefore we are unable to decide whether the line traced obliquely on the ancient charts should or should not be parallel, and consequently must leave it unreformed, keeping it oblique as the ancient charts have it. For in the first place, not to determine any thing is to leave it undetermined; and to leave a thing undetermined, is neither to take one view of the matter nor the other: but to agree to leave it as the ancients have, that is to take a view of the case. It would have been more consistent with his reasoning, if he had told us to leave Geography alone altogether, since we are similarly unable to determine the position of the Alps, the Pyrenees, and the mountains of Thrace, [Note] Illyria, [Note] and Germany. Wherefore should we give more credit to the ancient writers than to the modern, when we call to mind the numerous errors of their charts which have been pointed out by Eratosthenes, and which Hipparchus has not attempted to defend. 2.1.12

But the system of Hipparchus altogether teems with difficulties. Reflect for an instant on the following absurdity; after admitting that the southern extremity of India is under the same degree of latitude as Meroe, and that the distance from Meroe to the Strait of Byzantium is about 18,000 [Note] stadia, lie then makes the distance from the southern extremity of India to the mountains 30,000 stadia. Since Byzantium and Marseilles are under the same parallel of latitude, as Hipparchus tells us they are, on the authority of Pytheas, and since Byzantium and the Dnieper [Note] have also the same meridian, as Hipparchus equally assures us, if we take his assertion that there is a distance of 3700 [Note] stadia between Byzantium and the Dnieper, there will of course be a like difference between the latitude of Marseilles and the

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Dnieper. This would make the latitude of the Dnieper identical with that of Keltica next the Ocean; for on proceeding 3700 stadia [north of Marseilles], we reach the ocean. [Note] 2.1.13

Again, we know that the Cinnamon Country is the most southerly point of the habitable earth. According to Hipparchus's own statement, the latitude of this country, which marks the commencement of the temperate zone, and likewise of the habitable earth, is distant from the equator about 8800 stadia. [Note] And since he likewise says that from the equator to the parallel of the Dnieper there are 34,000 stadia, there will remain a distance of 25,200 stadia between the parallel of the Dnieper (which is the same as that which passes over the side of Keltica next the Ocean) to that which separates the torrid from the temperate zone. It is said that the farthest voyages now made north of Keltica are to Ierne, [Note] which lies beyond Britain, and, on account of its extreme cold, barely sustains life; beyond this it is thought to be uninhabitable. Now the distance between Keltica and Ierne is estimated at not more than 5000 stadia; so that on this view they must have estimated the whole breadth of the habitable earth at 30,000 stadia, or just above. 2.1.14

Let us then transport ourselves to the land opposite the Cinnamon Country, and lying to the east under the same parallel of latitude; we shall there find the country named Taprobane. [Note] This Taprobane is universally believed to be a large island situated in the high seas, and lying to the south opposite India. Its length in the direction of Ethiopia is above 5000 stadia, as they say. There are brought from thence to the Indian markets, ivory, tortoise-shells, and other wares in large quantities. Now if this island is broad in proportion to

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its length, we cannot suppose that the whole distance, [Note] inclusive of the space which separates it from India, is less than 3000 stadia, which is equal to the distance of the southern extremity of the habitable earth from Meroe, since the [southern] extremities of India and Meroe are under the same parallel. It is likely there are more than 3000 stadia, [Note] but taking this number, if we add thereto the 30,000 stadia, which Deimachus states there are between [the southern extremity of India] and the country of the Bactrians and Sogdians, we shall find both of these nations lie beyond the temperate zone and habitable earth. [Note] Who will venture to affirm such to be the case, hearing, as they must, the statement made both by ancients and moderns of the genial climate and fertility of northern India, Hyrcania, Aria, Margiana, [Note] and Bactriana also? These countries are all equally close to the northern side of the Taurus, Bactriana being contiguous to that part of the chain [Note] which forms the boundary of India. A country blessed with such advantages must be very far from uninhabitable. It is said that in Hyrcania each vine produces a metrete [Note] of wine, and each fig tree 60 medimni [Note] of fruit. That the grains of wheat which fall from the husk on to the earth spring up the year following; that bee-hives are in the trees, and the leaves flow with honey. The same may be met with in the part of Media called Matiana, [Note] and also in Saca-

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sena and Araxena, countries of Armenia. In these three it is not so much to be wondered at, since they lie more to the south than Hyrcania, and surpass the rest of the country in the beauty of their climate; but in Hyrcania it is more remarkable. It is said that in Margiana you may frequently meet with a vine whose stock would require two men with outstretched arms to clasp it, and clusters of grapes two cubits long. Aria is described as similarly fertile, the wine being still richer, and keeping perfectly for three generations in unpitched casks. Bactriana, which adjoins Aria, abounds in the same productions, if we except olives. 2.1.15

That there are cold regions in the high and mountainous parts of these countries is not to be wondered at; since in the [more] southern climates the mountains, and even the tablelands, are cold. The districts next the Euxine, in Cappadocia, are much farther north than those adjoining the Taurus. Bagadania, a vast plain, situated between the mountains of Argæus [Note] and Taurus, hardly produces any fruit trees, although south of the Euxine Sea by 3000 stadia; while the territory round Sinope, [Note] Amisus, [Note] and Phanarœa abounds in olives.

The Oxus, [Note] which divides Bactriana from Sogdiana, is said to be of such easy navigation that the wares of India are brought up it into the sea of Hyrcania, [Note] and thence successively by various other rivers to the districts near the Euxine. [Note] 2.1.16

Can one find any fertility to compare with this near to the Dnieper, or that part of Keltica next the ocean, [Note] where the vine either does not grow at all, or attains no maturity. [Note] However, in the more southerly portions of these districts, [Note]

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close to the sea, and those next the Bosphorus, [Note] the vine brings its fruit to maturity, although the grapes are exceedingly small, and the vines are covered up all the winter. And in the parts near the mouth of the Palus Mæotis, the frost is so strong that a general of Mithridates defeated the barbarians here in a cavalry engagement during the winter, and on the very same spot in a naval fight in summer, when the ice was thawed. Eratosthenes furnishes us with the following inscription, which he found in the temple of æsculapius at Panticapæeon, [Note] on a brazen vase which had been broken by the frost:—

If any one doubts the intensity of our winter's cold, let him believe when he sees this vase. The priest Stratius placed it here, not because he considered it a worthy offering to the god, but as a proof of the severity of our winter.

Since therefore the provinces we have just enumerated [are so superior in climate, that they] cannot be compared with the countries surrounding the Bosphorus, nor even the regions of Amisus and Sinope, (for every one will admit that they are much superior to these latter,) it would be idle to compare them with the districts near the Borysthenes and the north of Keltica; for we have shown that their temperature is not so low as Amisus, Sinope, Byzantium, and Marseilles, which are universally acknowledged to be 3700 stadia south of the Dnieper and Keltica. 2.1.17

If the followers of Deimachus add to the 30.000 stadia the distance to Taprobane and the boundaries of the torrid zone, which cannot be reckoned less than 4000 stadia, [Note] they will then remove Bactria and Aria from their actual localities and place them 34,000 stadia from the torrid zone, a distance equal to that which Hipparchus states to be between the equator and [the mouth of] the Dnieper, and the two countries will therefore be removed 8800 stadia north of [the mouth of] the Dnieper and Keltica; for there are reckoned to be 8800 stadia from the equator to the parallel of latitude which separates the temperate from the tor-

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rid zone, and which crosses the Cinnamon Country. [Note] We have proved that the regions not more than 5000 stadia north of Keltica, as far as Ierne, [Note] are scarcely habitable, but their reasoning leads to the conclusion that there is another circle fitted for the habitation of man, although 3800 stadia north of Ierne. [Note]

And that Bactra is still farther north than the mouth of the Caspian or Hyrcanian Sea, which is distant about 6000 stadia from the recess of the Caspian and the mountains of Armenia and Media, and which appears to be the most northerly point of the whole coast as far as India, with a sea navigable to India all the way, as Patrocles, who had the government of these regions, affirms. Now Bactriana stretches 1000 stadia farther north. Beyond this the Scythians occupy a much larger territory, bounded by the Northern Ocean: here they dwell, though to be sure theirs is a nomade life. But we ask how they could exist here at all, supposing even Bactra to be beyond the limits of the habitable globe. The distance from the Caucasus to the Northern Sea through Bactra would be

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rather more than 4000 stadia. [Note] This being added to the number [Note] of stadia north of Ierne [Note] above-mentioned, will give us the whole amount of uninhabitable land from Ierne northward 7800 stadia, and even omitting the 4000 stadia altogether, those parts of Bactriana next the Caucasus will still be 3800 stadia farther north than Ierne, and 8800 farther north than Keltica, [Note] and [the mouth] of the Dnieper. 2.1.18

Hipparchus narrates that at the Dnieper and [the north of] Keltica, during the whole of the summer nights there is one continued twilight from sun-set to sun-rise, but at the winter solstice the sun never rises more than nine cubits above the horizon. [Note] He adds that this phenomenon is yet more remarkable in regions 6300 [Note] stadia north of Marseilles, (these regions he supposes to be peopled by Kelts, but I believe are inhabited by Britons, and 2500 stadia north of Keltica,) where the sun at the winter solstice [Note] rises only six cubits above the horizon. That at 9100 [Note] stadia north of Marseilles it only rises four cubits, and not so much as three in the countries beyond, and which I consider much farther north than Ierne. [Note] However, Hipparchus, on the authority of Pytheas, places them south of Britain, and says that the longest day there consists only of 19 hours; [Note] while in countries where the sun rises but four cubits above the horizon, and which are situated 9100 [Note]

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stadia north of Marseilles, the day has 18 hours. Consequently [according to his hypothesis] the most southerly parts of Britain must be north of these regions. They must therefore be under the same parallel, or almost the same, as the parts of Bactriana next to the Caucasus, which I have shown are, according to the followers of Deimachus, 3800 stadia farther north than Ierne. [Note] Now if we add this to the number between Marseilles and Ierne, we shall get 12,500 stadia. But who ever made known to us that, in those parts, I mean, in the vicinity of Bactra, this was the duration of the longest day, or the height which the sun attains in the meridian at the winter solstice? All these things are patent to the eyes of every man, and require no mathematical investigation; therefore they certainly would have been mentioned by numerous writers both amongst the ancients who have left us histories of Persia, and by the later writers too, who have carried them down to our own time. How, too, would their fertility, which I have described above, harmonize with such a latitude? The facts here advanced are sufficient to give an idea of the learned manner in which Hipparchus attempts to controvert the reasoning of Eratosthenes by mere petitiones principii. 2.1.19

Again, Eratosthenes wished to show the ignorance of Deimachus, and his want of information concerning such matters, as proved by his assertion that India lies between the autumnal equinox [Note] and winter tropic. [Note] Also in his blaming Megasthenes, where he says that in the southern parts of India the Greater and Lesser Bear are seen to set, and the shadows

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to fall both ways; assuring us that such is not the case in India. [Note] These assertions, says Eratosthenes, arise from the ignorance of Deimachus. For it is nothing else than ignorance to suppose that the autumnal equinox is not equally distant from the tropics with the vernal; since in both equinoxes the sun rises at the same point, and performs a similar revolution. Further, [he continues,] the distance from the terrestrial tropic to the equator, between which, according to Deimachus himself, India is situated, has been proved by measurement to be much less than 20,000 stadia, consequently his own statements prove that my assertion is correct, and not his. For supposing India to be twenty or thirty thousand stadia [in breadth] it could not be contained in the given space, but if my estimate be taken it is simple enough. It is another evidence of his want of information, to say that the two Bears are not seen to set, or the shadows to fall both ways, in any part of India, since 5000 stadia south of Alexandria [Note] both of these phenomena are observable. Thus reasons Eratosthenes; whom Hipparchus again criticises in the same mistaken way. First he substitutes [in the text of Deimachus] the summer in place of the winter tropic; then he says that the evidence of a man ignorant of astronomy ought not to be received in a mathematical question; as if Eratosthenes in the main had actually been guided by the authority of Deimachus. Could he not see that Eratosthenes had followed

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the general custom in regard to idle reasoners, one means of refuting whom is to show that their arguments, whatever they may be, go only to confirm our views. 2.1.20

It is by assuming as a fact that the southern extremity of India is under the same parallel as Meroe, a thing affirmed and believed by most writers, that we shall be best able to show the absurdities of the system of Hipparchus. In the first book of his Commentaries he does not object to this hypothesis, but in the second book he no longer admits it; we must examine his reasons for this. He says, when two countries are situated under the same parallel, but separated by a great distance, you cannot be certain that they are exactly under the same parallel, unless the climata [Note] of both the places are found to be similar. Now Philo, in his account of a voyage by sea to Ethiopia, has given us the clima of Meroe. He says that at that place the sun is vertical forty-five days before the summer solstice, [Note] he also informs us of the proportion of shadow thrown by the gnomon both at the equinoxes and solstices. Eratosthenes agrees almost exactly with Philo. But not a single writer, not even Eratosthenes, has informed us of the clima of India; but if it is the case, as many are inclined to believe on the authority of Nearchus, [Note] that the two Bears are seen to set in that country, then certainly Meroe and the southern extremity of India cannot be under the same parallel. [Note] [Such is the reasoning of Hipparchus, but we reply,] If Eratosthenes confirms the statement of those authors

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who tell us that in India the two Bears are observed to set, how can it be said that not a single person, not even Eratosthenes, has informed us of any thing concerning the clima of India? This is itself information on that point. If, however, he has not confirmed this statement, let him be exonerated from the error. Certain it is he never did confirm the statement. Only when Deimachus affirmed that there was no place in India from which the two Bears might be seen to set, or the shadows fall both ways, as Megasthenes had asserted, Eratosthenes thereupon taxed him with ignorance, regarding as absolutely false this two-fold assertion, one half of which, namely, that concerning the shadows not falling both ways, Hipparchus himself acknowledged to be false; for if the southern extremity of India were not under the same parallel as Meroe, still Hipparchus appears to have considered it south of Syene. 2.1.21

In the instances which follow, Hipparchus, treating of these subjects, either asserts things similar to those which we have already refuted, or takes for granted matters which are not so, or draws improper sequences. For instance, from the computation [of Eratosthenes] that the distance from Babylon to Thapsacus [Note] is 4800 stadia, and thence northward to the mountains of Armenia [Note] 2100 stadia more, it does not follow that, starting from the meridian of that city, the distance to the northern mountains is above 6000 stadia. Besides, Eratosthenes never says that the distance from Thapsacus to these mountains is 2100 stadia, but that a part thereof has never yet been measured; so that this argument [of Hipparchus], founded on a false hypothesis, amounts to nothing. Nor (lid Eratosthenes ever assert that Thapsacus lies more than 4500 stadia north of Babylon. 2.1.22

Again, Hipparchus, ever anxious to defend the [accuracy of the] ancient charts, instead of fairly stating the words of Eratosthenes concerning his third section of the habitable earth, wilfully makes him the author of an assertion easy of disproof. For Eratosthenes, following the opinion we before mentioned, that a line drawn from the Pillars of Hercules across the Mediterranean, and the length of the Taurus, would

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run due west and east, [Note] divides, by means of this line, the habit- able earth into two portions, which he calls the northern and southern divisions; each of these he again essays to subdivide into as many smaller partitions as practicable, which he denominates sections. [Note] He makes India the first section of the southern part, and Ariana [Note] the second; these two countries possessing a good outline, he has been able not only to give us an accurate statement of their length and breadth, but an almost geometrically exact description of their figure. He tells us that the form of India is rhomboidal, being washed on two of its sides by the southern and eastern oceans [respectively], which do not deeply indent its shores, The two remaining sides are contained by its mountains and the river [Indus], so that it presents a kind of rectilinear figure. [Note] As to Ariana, he considered three of its sides well fitted to form a parallelogram; but of the western side he could give no regular definition, as it was inhabited by various nations; nevertheless he attempts an idea of it by a line drawn from the Caspian Gates [Note] to the limits of Carmania, which border on the Persian Gulf. This side he calls western, and that next the Indus eastern, but he does not tell us they are parallel to each other; neither does he say this of the other sides, one bounded by the mountains, and the other by the sea; he simply calls them north and south. 2.1.23

Having in this manner but imperfectly traced the outlines of his second section, the third section, for various reasons, is still less exact. The first cause has been already explained, viz. that the line from the Caspian Gates to Carmania is not clearly defined, as the side of the section is common both to the third and second sections. Secondly, on account of the Persian Gulf interrupting the continuity of

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the southern side, as he himself tells us, he has been obliged to take the measured road running through Susa and Persepolis to the boundaries of Carmania and Persia, and suppose it straight. [Note] This road, which he calls the southern side, is a little more than 9000 stadia. He does not, however, tell us, that it runs parallel to the northern side. It is also clear that the Euphrates, which he makes the western boundary, is any thing but a straight line. On leaving the mountains it flows south, but soon shifts its course to the east; it then again pursues a southerly direction till it reaches the sea. In fact, Eratosthenes himself acknowledges the indirect course of this river, when he compares the shape of Mesopotamia, which is formed by the junction of the Tigris and Euphrates, to the cushion on a rower's bench. The western side bounded by the Euphrates is not entirely measured; for he tells us that he does not know the extent of the portion between Armenia and the northern mountains, [Note] as it has not been measured. By reason of these hinderances he states that he has been only able to give a very superficial view of the third section, and that his estimate of the distances is borrowed from various Itineraries, some of them, according to his own description, anonymous. Hipparchus therefore must be considered guilty of unfairness, for criticising with geometrical precision a work of this general nature. We ought rather to be grateful to a person who gives us any description at all of the character of such [unknown] places. But when he urges his geometrical objections not against any real statement of Eratosthenes, but merely against imaginary hypotheses of his own creation, he shows too plainly the contradictory bent of his mind. 2.1.24

It is in this general kind of description of the third section that Eratosthenes supposes 10,000 stadia from the Caspian Gates to the Euphrates. This he again divides according to former admeasurements which he found preserved. Starting from the point where the Euphrates passes near to Thapsacus, he computes from thence to the place where Alexander crossed the Tigris 2400 stadia. The route

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thence through Gaugamela, [Note] the Lycus, [Note] Arbela, [Note] and Ecbatana, [Note] whither Darius fled from Gaugamela to the Caspian Gates, makes up the 10,000 stadia, which is only 300 stadia too much. Such is the measure of the northern side given by Eratosthenes, which he could not have supposed to be parallel to the mountains, nor yet to the line drawn from the Pillars of Hercules through Athens and Rhodes. For Thapsacus is far removed from the mountains, and the route from Thapsacus to the Caspian Gates only falls in with the mountains at that point. [Note] Such is the boundary on the northern side. 2.1.25

Thus, says Eratosthenes, we have given you a description of the northern side; as for the southern, we cannot take its measure along the sea, on account of the Persian Gulf, which intercepts [its continuity], but from Babylon through Susa and Persepolis to the confines of Persia and Carmania there are 9200 stadia. This he calls the southern side, but he does not say it is parallel to the northern. The difference of length between the northern and southern sides is caused, he tells us, by the Euphrates, which after running south some distance shifts its course almost due east. 2.1.26

Of the two remaining sides, he describes the western first, but whether we are to regard it as one single straight line, or two, seems to be undecided. He says,—From Thapsacus to Babylon, following the course of the Euphrates, there are 4800 stadia; from thence to the mouth of the Euphrates [Note] and the city of Teredon, 3000 [Note] more; from Thapsacus northward to the Gates of Armenia, having been measured, is stated to be 1100 stadia, but the distance through Gordyæa and Armenia, not having yet been measured, is not given. The eastern side, which stretches lengthwise through Persia from the Red Sea towards Media and the north, does not appear to be less than 8000 stadia, and measured from certain headlands above 9000, the rest of the distance through Parætacena and Media to the Caspian Gates being 3000 stadia. The rivers Tigris and Euphrates flowing from Armenia towards the south, after having passed the

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Gordytæan mountains, and having formed a great circle which embraces the vast country of Mesopotamia, turn towards the rising of the sun in winter and the south, particularly the Euphrates, which, continually approaching nearer and nearer to the Tigris, passes by the rampart of Semiramis, [Note] and at about 200 stadia from the village of Opis, [Note] thence it flows through Babylon, and so discharges itself into the Persian Gulf. Thus the figure of Mesopotamia and Babylon resembles the cushion of a rower's bench.—Such are the words of Eratosthenes. 2.1.27

In the Third Section it is true he does make some mistakes, which we shall take into consideration; but they are nothing like the amount which Hipparchus attributes to him. However, we will examine his objections. [In the first place,] he would have the ancient charts left just as they are, and by no means India brought more to the south, as Eratosthenes thinks proper. Indeed, he asserts that the very arguments adduced by that writer only confirm him the more in his opinion. He says, According to Eratosthenes, the northern side of the third section is bounded by a line of 10,000 stadia drawn from the Caspian Gates to the Euphrates, the southern side from Babylon to the confines of Carmania is a little more than 9000 stadia. On the western side, following the course of the Euphrates, from Thapsacus to Babylon there are 4800 stadia, and thence to the outlets of the river 3000 stadia more. Northward from Thapsacus [to the Gates of Armenia] is reckoned 1100 stadia; the rest has not been measured. Now since Eratosthenes says that the northern side of this Third Section is about 10,000 stadia, and that the right line parallel thereto drawn from Babylon to the eastern side is computed at just above 9000 stadia, it follows that Babylon is not much more than 1000 stadia east of the passage of [the Euphrates] near Thapsacus. 2.1.28

We answer, that if the Caspian Gates and the boundary line of Carmania and Persia were exactly under the same meridian, and if right lines drawn in the direction of Thapsacus and Babylon would intersect such meridian at right angles,

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the inference would be just. [Note] For then the line [from the common frontier of Carmania and Persia] to Babylon if produced to the meridian of Thapsacus, would appear to the eye equal, or nearly equal, to that from the Caspian Gates to Thapsacus. Consequently, Babylon would only be east of Thapsacus in the same proportion as the line drawn from the Caspian Gates to Thapsacus exceeds the line drawn from the frontier of Carmania to Babylon. [Note] Eratosthenes, however, does not tell us that the line which bounds the western coast of Ariana follows the direction of the meridian; nor yet that a line drawn from the Caspian Gates to Thapsacus would form right angles with the meridian of the Caspian Gates. But rather, that the line which would form right angles with the meridian, would be one which should follow the course of the Taurus, and with which the line drawn from the Caspian Gates to Thapsacus would form an acute angle. Nor, again, does he ever say that a line drawn from Carmania to Babylon would be parallel to that drawn [from the Caspian Gates] to Thapsacus; and even if it were parallel, this would prove nothing for the argument of Hipparchus, since it does not form right angles with the meridian of the Caspian Gates. 2.1.29

But taking this for granted, and proving, as he imagines, that, according to Eratosthenes, Babylon is east of Thapsacus rather more than 1000 stadia, he draws from this false hypothesis a new argument, which he uses to the following purpose; and says, If we suppose a right line drawn from Thapsacus towards the south, and another from Babylon perpendicular thereto, a right-angled triangle would be the result; whose sides should be, 1. A line drawn from Thapsacus to Babylon; 2. A perpendicular drawn from Babylon to the meridian of Thapsacus; 3. The meridian line of Thapsacus. The hypotenuse of this triangle would be a right line drawn from Thapsacus to Babylon, which he estimates at 4800 stadia. The perpendicular drawn from Babylon to the meridian of Thapsacus is scarcely more than 1000 stadia; the same amount by which the line drawn [from the Caspian Gates] to

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Thapsacus exceeds that [from the common frontier of Carmania and Persia] to Babylon. The two sides [of the triangle] being given, Hipparchus proceeds to find the third, which is much greater than the perpendicular [Note] aforesaid. To this he adds the line drawn from Thapsacus northwards to the mountains of Armenia, one part of which, according to Eratosthenes, was measured, and found to be 1100 stadia; the other, or part unmeasured by Eratosthenes, Hipparchus estimates to be 1000 stadia at the least: so that the two together amount to 2100 stadia. Adding this to the [length of the] side upon which falls the perpendicular drawn from Babylon, Hipparchus estimated a distance of many thousand stadia from the mountains of Armenia and the parallel of Athens to this perpendicular, which falls on the parallel of Babylon. [Note] From the parallel of Athens [Note] to that of Babylon he shows that there cannot be a greater distance than 2400 stadia, even admitting the estimate supplied by Eratosthenes himself of the number of stadia which the entire meridian contains; [Note] and that if this be so, the mountains of Armenia and the Taurus cannot be under the same parallel of latitude as Athens, (which is the opinion of' Eratosthenes,) but many thousand stadia to the north, as the data supplied by that writer himself prove.

But here, for the formation of his right-angled triangle, Hipparchus not only makes use of propositions already overturned, but assumes what was never granted, namely, that the hypotenuse subtending his right angle, which is the straight line from Thapsacus to Babylon, is 4800 stadia in length. What Eratosthenes says is, that this route follows the course of the Euphrates, and adds, that Mesopotamia and Babylon are encompassed as it were by a great circle formed by the Euphrates and Tigris, but principally by the former of these rivers. So that a straight line from Thapsacus to Babylon would neither follow the course of the Euphrates, nor yet be near so many stadia in length. Thus the argument [of Hipparchus] is overturned. We have stated before, that supposing two lines drawn from

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the Caspian Gates, one to Thapsacus, and the other to the mountains of Armenia opposite Thapsacus, and distant therefrom, according to Hipparchus's own estimate, 2100 stadia at the very least, neither of them would be parallel to each other, nor yet to that line which, passing through Babylon, is styled by Eratosthenes the southern side [of the third section]. As he could not inform us of the exact length of the route by the mountains, Eratosthenes tells us the distance between Thapsacus and the Caspian Gates; in fact, to speak in a general way, he puts this distance in place of the other; besides, as he merely wanted to give the length of the territory between Ariana and the Euphrates, he was not particular to have the exact measure of either route. To pretend that he considered the lines to be parallel to each other, is evidently to accuse the man of more than childish ignorance, and we dismiss the insinuation as nonsense forthwith. 2.1.30

There, however, are some instances in which one may justly accuse Eratosthenes. There is a difference in dissecting limb by limb, or merely cutting off portions [indiscriminately], (for in the former you may only separate parts having a natural outline, and distinguished by a regular form; this the poet alludes to in the expression, Cutting them limb from limb; [Note]
Odyssey ix. 291; Iliad xxiv. 409
whereas in regard to the latter this is not the case,) and we may adopt with propriety either one or other of these plans according to the time and necessity. So in Geography, if you enter into every detail, you may sometimes be compelled to divide your territories into portions, so to speak, but it is a more preferable way to separate them into limbs, than into such chance pieces; for thus only you can define accurately particular points and boundaries, a thing so necessary to the geographer. When it can be done, the best way to define a country is by the rivers, mountains, or sea; also, where possible, by the nation or nations [who inhabit it], and by its size and configuration. However, in default of a geometrical definition, a simple and general description may be said always to answer the purpose. In regard to size, it is sufficient to state the greatest length and breadth; for example, that the habit-

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able earth is 70,000 stadia long, and that its breadth is scarcely half its length. [Note] And as to form, to compare a country to any geometrical or other well-known figure. For example, Sicily to a triangle, Spain to an ox-hide, or the Peloponnesus to a plane-leaf. [Note] The larger the territory to be divided, the more general also ought its divisions to be. 2.1.31

[In the system of Eratosthenes], the habitable earth has been admirably divided into two parts by the Taurus and the Mediterranean Sea, which reaches to the Pillars. On the southern side, the limits of India have been described by a variety of methods; by its mountains, [Note] its river, [Note] its seas, [Note] and its name, [Note] which seems to indicate that it is inhabited only by one people. [Note] It is with justice too that he attributes to it the form of a quadrilateral or rhomboid. Ariana is not so accurately described, on account of its western side being interwoven with the adjacent land. Still it is pretty well distinguished by its three other sides, which are formed by three nearly straight lines, and also by its name, which shows it to be only one nation. [Note] As to the Third Section of Eratos- thenes, it cannot be considered to be defined or circumscribed at all; for that side of it which is common to Ariana is but ill defined, as before remarked. The southern side, too, is most negligently taken: it is, in fact, no boundary to the section at all, for it passes right through its centre, leaving entirely outside of it many of the southern portions. Nor

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yet does it represent the greatest length of the section, for the northern side is the longest. [Note] Nor, lastly, can the Euphrates be its western boundary, not even if it flowed in a right line, since its two extremes [Note] do not lie under the same meridian. How then is it the western rather than the southern boundary? Apart from this, the distance to the Seas of Cilicia and Syria is so inconsiderable, that there can be no reason why he should not have enlarged the third section, so as to include the kingdoms of Semiramis and Ninus, who are both of them known as Syrian monarchs; the first built Babylon, which he made his royal residence; the second Ninus, [Note] the capital of Syria; [Note] and the same dialect still exists on both sides of the Euphrates. The idea of thus dismembering so renowned a nation, and allotting its portions to strange nations with which it had no connexion, is as peculiarly unfortunate. Eratosthenes cannot plead that he was compelled to do this on account of its size, for had it extended as far as the sea and the frontiers of Arabia Felix and Egypt, even then it would not have been as large as India, or even Ariana. It would have therefore been much better to have enlarged the third section, making it comprehend the whole space as far as the Sea of Syria; but if this were done, the southern side would not be as he represents it, nor yet in a straight line, but starting from Carmania would follow the right side of the sea-shore from the Persian Gulf to the mouth of the Euphrates; it would then approach the limits of Mesene [Note] and Babylon, where the Isthmus commences which separates Arabia Felix from the rest of the continent. Traversing the Isthmus, it would continue its course to the recess of the Arabian Gulf and Pelusium, [Note] thence to the mouth of the Nile at Canopus. [Note] Such would be the southern

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side. The west would be traced by the sea-shore from the [river's] mouth at Canopus to Cilicia. [Note] 2.1.32

The fourth section would consist of Arabia Felix, the Arabian Gulf, and the whole of Egypt and Ethiopia. Its length bounded by two meridians, one drawn through its most western point, the other through its most eastern; and its breadth by two parallels through its most northern and southern points. For this is the best way to describe the extent of irregular figures, whose length and breadth cannot be determined by their sides.

In general it is to be observed, that length and breadth are to be understood in different ways, according as you speak of the whole or a part. Of a whole, the greater distance is called its length, and the lesser its breadth; of a part, that is to be considered the length which is parallel to the length of the whole, without any regard whether it, or that which is left for the breadth, be the greater distance. The length of the whole habitable earth is measured from east to west by a line drawn parallel to the equator, and its breadth from north to south in the direction of the meridian; consequently, the length of any of the parts ought to be portions of a line drawn parallel to the length of the whole, and their breadth to the breadth of the whole. For, in the first place, by this means the size of the whole habitable earth will be best described; and secondly, the disposition and configuration of its parts, and the manner in which one may be said to be greater or less than another, will be made manifest by thus comparing them. 2.1.33

Eratosthenes, however, measures the length of the habitable earth by a line which he considers straight, drawn from the Pillars of Hercules, in the direction of the Caspian Gates and the Caucasus. The length of the third section, by a line drawn from the Caspian Gates to Thapsacus, and of the fourth, by one running from Thapsacus through Heroopolis to the country surrounded by the Nile: this must necessarily be deflected to Canopus and Alexandria, for there is the last mouth of the Nile, which goes by the name of the Canopic [Note] or Heracleotic mouth. Whether

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therefore these two lengths be considered to form one straight line, or to make an angle with Thapsacus, certain it is that neither of them is parallel to the length of the habitable earth; this is evident from what Eratosthenes has himself said concerning them. According to him the length of the habitable earth is described by a right line running through the Taurus to the Pillars of Hercules, in the direction of the Caucasus, Rhodes, and Athens. From Rhodes to Alexandria, following the meridian of the two cities, he says there cannot be much less than 4000 stadia, [Note] consequently there must be the same difference between the latitudes of Rhodes and Alexandria. Now the latitude of Heroopolis is about the same as Alexandria, or rather more south. So that a line, whether straight or broken, which intersects the parallel of Heroopolis, Rhodes, or the Gates of the Caspian, cannot be parallel to either of these. These lengths therefore are not properly indicated, nor are the northern sections any better. 2.1.34

We will now return at once to Hipparchus, and see what comes next. Continuing to palm assumptions of his own [upon Eratosthenes], he goes on to refute, with geometrical accuracy, statements which that author had made in a mere general way. Eratosthenes, he says, estimates that there are 6700 stadia between Babylon and the Caspian Gates, and from Babylon to the frontiers of Carmania and Persia above 9000 stadia; this he supposes to lie in a direct line towards the equinoctial rising, [Note] and perpendicular to the common side of his second and third sections. Thus, according to his plan, we should have a right-angled triangle, with the right angle next to the frontiers of Carmania, and its hypotenuse less than one of the sides about the right angle! Consequently Persia should be included in the second section. [Note]

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To this we reply, that the line drawn from Babylon to Carmania was never intended as a parallel, nor yet that which divides the two sections as a meridian, and that therefore nothing has been laid to his charge, at all events with any just foundation. In fact, Eratosthenes having stated the number of stadia from the Caspian Gates to Babylon as above given, [Note] [from the Caspian Gates] to Susa 4900 stadia, and from Babylon [to Susa] 3400 stadia, Hipparchus runs away from his former hypothesis, and says that [by drawing lines from] the Caspian Gates, Susa, and Babylon, an obtuse-angled triangle would be the result, whose sides should be of the length laid down, and of which Susa would form the obtuse angle. He then argues, that according to these premises, the meridian drawn from the Gates of the Caspian will intersect the parallel of Babylon and Susa 4400 stadia more to the west, than would a straight line drawn from the Caspian to the confines of Carmania and Persia; and that this last line, forming with the meridian of the Caspian Gates half a right angle, would lie exactly in a direction midway between the south and the equinoctial rising. Now as the course of the Indus is parallel to this line, it cannot flow south on its descent from the mountains, as Eratosthenes asserts, but in a direction lying between the south and the equinoctial rising, as laid down in the ancient charts. But who is there who will admit this to be an obtuse-angled triangle, without also admitting that it contains a right angle? Who will agree that the line from Babylon to Susa, which forms one side of this obtuse-angled triangle, lies parallel, without admitting the same of the whole line as far as Carmania? or that the line drawn from the Caspian Gates to the frontiers of Carmania is parallel to the Indus? Nevertheless, without this the reasoning [of Hipparchus] is worth nothing

Eratosthenes himself also states, [continues Hipparchus, [Note]]

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that the form of India is rhomboidal; and since the whole eastern border of that country has a decided tendency towards the east, but more particularly the extremest cape, [Note] which lies more to the south than any other part of the coast, the side next the Indus must be the same. 2.1.35

These arguments may be very geometrical, but they are not convincing. After having himself invented these various difficulties, he dismisses them, saying, Had [Eratosthenes] been chargeable for small distances only, he might have been excused; but since his mistakes involve thousands of stadia, we cannot pardon him, more especially since he has laid it down that at a mere distance of 400 stadia, [Note] such as that between the parallels of Athens and Rhodes, there is a sensible variation [of latitude]. But these sensible variations are not all of the same kind, the distance [involved therein] being in some instances greater, in others less; greater, when for our estimate of the climata we trust merely to the eye, or are guided by the vegetable productions and the temperature of the air; less, when we employ gnomons and dioptric instruments. Nothing is more likely than that if you measure the parallel of Athens, or that of Rhodes and Caria, by means of a gnomon, the difference resulting from so many stadia [Note] will be sensible. But when a geographer, in order to trace a line from west to east, 3000 stadia broad, makes use of a chain of mountains 40,000 stadia long, and also of a sea which extends still farther 30,000 stadia, and farther wishing to point out the situation of the different parts of the habitable earth relative to this line, calls some southern, others northern, and finally lays out what he calls the sections, each section consisting of divers countries, then we ought carefully to examine in what acceptation he uses his terms; in what sense he says that such a side [of any section] is the north side, and what other is the south, or east, or west side. If he does not take pains to avoid great errors, he deserves to be blamed, but should he be guilty merely of trifling inaccuracies, he should be forgiven. But here nothing shows thoroughly that Era-

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tosthenes has committed either serious or slight errors, for on one hand what he may have said concerning such great distances, can never be verified by a geometrical test, and on the other, his accuser, while endeavouring to reason like a geometrician, does not found his arguments on any real data, but on gratuitous suppositions. 2.1.36

The fourth section Hipparchus certainly manages better, though he still maintains the same censorious tone, and obstinacy in sticking to his first hypotheses, or others similar. He properly objects to Eratosthenes giving as the length of this section a line drawn from Thapsacus to Egypt, as being similar to the case of a man who should tell us that the diagonal of a parallelogram was its length. For Thapsacus and the coasts of Egypt are by no means under the same parallel of latitude, but under parallels considerably distant from each other, [Note] and a line drawn from Thapsacus to Egypt would lie in a kind of diagonal or oblique direction between them. But he is wrong when he expresses his surprise that Eratosthenes should dare to state the distance between Pelusium and Thapsacus at 6000 stadia, when he says there are above 8000. In proof of this he advances that the parallel of Pelusium is south of that of Babylon by more than 2500 stadia, and that according to Eratosthenes (as he supposes) the latitude of Thapsacus is above 4800 stadia north of that of Babylon; from which Hipparchus tells us it results that [between Thapsacus and Pelusium] there are more than 8000 stadia. But I would inquire how he can prove that Eratosthenes supposed so great a distance between the parallels of Babylon and Thapsacus? He says, indeed, that such is the distance from Thapsacus to Babylon, but not that there is this distance between their parallels, nor yet that Thapsacus and Babylon are under the same meridian. So much the contrary, that Hipparchus has himself pointed out, that, according to Eratosthenes, Babylon ought to be east of Thapsacus more than 2000 stadia. We have before cited the statement of Eratosthenes, that Mesopotamia and Babylon are encircled by the Tigris and Euphrates, and that the greater portion of the Circle is formed by this latter river, which flowing north and south takes a turn to the east, and then, returning to a

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southerly direction, discharges itself [into the sea]. So long as it flows from north to south, it may be said to follow a southerly direction; but the turning towards the east and Babylon is a decided deviation from the southerly direction, and it never recovers a straight course, but forms the circuit we have mentioned above. When he tells us that the journey from Babylon to Thapsacus is 4800 stadia, he adds, following the course of the Euphrates, as if on purpose lest any one should understand such to be the distance in a direct line, or between the two parallels. If this be not granted, it is altogether a vain attempt to show that if a right-angled triangle were constructed by lines drawn from Pelusium and Thapsacus to the point where the parallel of Thapsacus intercepts the meridian of Pelusium, that one of the lines which form the right angle, and is in the direction of the meridian, would be longer than that forming the hypotenuse drawn from Thapsacus to Pelusium. [Note] Worthless, too, is the argument in connexion with this, being the inference from a proposition not admitted; for Eratosthenes never asserts that from Babylon to the meridian of the Caspian Gates is a distance of 4800 stadia. We have shown that Hipparchus deduces this from data not admitted by Eratosthenes; but desirous to controvert every thing advanced by that writer, he assumes that from Babylon to the line drawn from the Caspian Gates to the mountains of Carmania, according to Eratosthenes' description, there are above 9000 stadia, and from thence draws his conclusions. 2.1.37

Eratosthenes [Note] cannot, therefore, be found fault with on these grounds; what may be objected against him is as follows. When you wish to give a general outline of size and configuration, you should devise for yourself some rule which may be adhered to more or less. After having laid down that the breadth of the space occupied by the mountains which run in a direction due east, as well as by the sea which reaches to the Pillars of Hercules, is 3000 stadia, would you pretend to estimate different lines, which you may draw within the breadth of that space, as one and the same line? We

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should be more willing to grant you the power of doing so with respect to the lines which run parallel to that space than with those which fall upon it; and among these latter, rather with respect to those which fall within it than to those which extend without it; and also rather for those which, in regard to the shortness of their extent, would not pass out of the said space than for those which would. And again, rather for lines of some considerable length than for any thing very short, for the inequality of lengths is less perceptible in great extents than the difference of configuration. For example, if you give 3000 stadia for the breadth at the Taurus, as well as for the sea which extends to the Pillars of Hercules, you will form a parallelogram entirely enclosing both the mountains of the Taurus and the sea; if you divide it in its length into several other parallelograms, and draw first the diagonal of the great parallelogram, and next that of each smaller parallelogram, surely the diagonal of the great parallelogram will be regarded as a line more nearly parallel and equal to the side forming the length of that figure than the diagonal of any of the smaller parallelograms: and the more your lesser parallelograms should be multiplied, the more will this become evident. Certainly, it is in great figures that the obliquity of the diagonal and its difference from the side forming the length are the less perceptible, so that you would have but little scruple in taking the diagonal as the length of the figure. But if you draw the diagonal more inclined, so that it falls beyond both sides, or at least beyond one of the sides, then will this no longer be the case; and this is the sense in which we have observed, that when you attempted to draw even in a very general way the extents of the figures, you ought to adopt some rule. But Eratosthenes takes a line from the Caspian Gates along the mountains, running as it were in the same parallel as far as the Pillars, and then a second line, starting directly from the mountains to touch Thapsacus; and again a third line from Thapsacus to the frontiers of Egypt, occupying so great a breadth. If then in proceeding you give the length of the two last lines [taken together] as the measure of the length of the district, you will appear to measure the length of one of your parallelograms by its diagonal. And if, farther, this diagonal should consist of a broken line, as that would be which stretches from the

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Caspian Gates to the embouchure of the Nile, passing by Thapsacus, your error will appear much greater. This is the sum of what may be alleged against Eratosthenes. 2.1.38

In another respect also we have to complain of Hipparchus, because, as he had given a category of the statements of Eratosthenes, he ought to have corrected his mistakes, in the same way that we have done; but whenever he has any thing particular to remark, he tells us to follow the ancient charts, which, to say the least, need correction infinitely more than the map of Eratosthenes.

The argument which follows is equally objectionable, being founded on the consequences of a proposition which, as we have shown, is inadmissible, namely, that Babylon was not more than 1000 stadia east of Thapsacus; when it was quite clear, from Eratosthenes' own words, that Babylon was above 2400 stadia east of that place; since from Thapsacus to the passage of the Euphrates where it was crossed by Alexander, the shortest route is 2400 stadia, and the Tigris and Euphrates, having encompassed Mesopotamia, flow towards the east, and afterwards take a southerly direction and approach nearer to each other and to Babylon at the same time: nothing appears absurd in this statement of Eratosthenes. 2.1.39

The next objection of Hipparchus is likewise false. He attempts to prove that Eratosthenes, in his statement that the route from Thapsacus to the Caspian Gates is 10,000 stadia, gives this as the distance taken in a straight line; such not being the case, as in that instance the distance would be much shorter. His mode of reasoning is after this fashion. He says, According to Eratosthenes, the mouth of the Nile at Canopus, [Note] and the Cyaneæ, [Note] are under the same meridian, which is distant from that of Thapsacus 6300 stadia. Now from the Cyaneæ to Mount Caspius, which is situated close to the defile [Note] leading from Colchis to the Cas-

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pian Sea, there are 6600 stadia, [Note] so that, with the exception of about 300 stadia, the distance from the meridian of the Cyaneæ to that of Thapsacus, or to that of Mount Caspius, is the same: and both Thapsacus and Mount Caspius are, so to speak, under the same meridian. [Note] It follows from this that the Caspian Gates are about equi-distant between Thapsacus and Mount Caspius, but that the distance between them and Thapsacus is much less than the 10,000 stadia mentioned by Eratosthenes. Consequently, as the distance in a right line is much less than 10,000 stadia, this route, which he considered to be in a straight course from the Caspian Gates to Thapsacus, must have been a circumbendibus.

To this we reply, that Eratosthenes, as is usual in Geography, speaks of right lines, meridians, and parallels to the equator, with considerable latitude, whereas Hipparchus criticizes him with geometrical nicety, as if every line had been measured with rule and compass. Hipparchus at the same time himself frequently deciding as to right lines and parallels, not by actual measurement, but mere conjecture. Such is the first error of this writer. A second is, that he never lays down the distances as Eratosthenes has given them, nor yet reasons on the data furnished by that writer, but from mere assumptions of his own coinage. Thus, where Eratosthenes states that the distance from the mouth of the [Thracian Bosphorus] to the Phasis is 8000 stadia, from thence to Dioscurias 600 stadia, [Note] and from Dioscurias to Caspius five days' journey, (which Hipparchus estimates at 1000 stadia,) the sum of these, as stated by Eratosthenes, would amount to 9600 stadia. This Hipparchus abridges in the following manner. From the Cyaneæ to the Phasis are 5600 stadia, and from the Phasis to the Caspius 1000 more. [Note] There

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fore it is no statement of Eratosthenes that the Caspius and Thapsacus are under the same meridian, but of Hipparchus himself. However, supposing Eratosthenes says so, does it follow that the distance from the Caspius to the Caspian Gates, and that from Thapsacus to the same point, are equal. [Note] 2.1.40

In the second book of his Commentaries, Hipparchus, having again mooted the question concerning the mountains of the Taurus, of which we have spoken sufficiently, proceeds with the northern parts of the habitable earth. He then notices the statement of Eratosthenes concerning the countries situated west of the Euxine, [Note] namely, that the three [principal] headlands [of this continent], the first the Peloponnesian, the second the Italian, the third the Ligurian, run from north [to south], enclosing the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian Gulfs. [Note] After this general exposition, Hipparchus proceeds to criticise each point in detail, but rather on geometrical than geographical grounds; on these subjects, however, the number of Eratosthenes' errors is so overwhelming, as also of Timosthenes the author of the Treatise on the Ports, (whom Eratosthenes prefers above every other writer, though he often decides even against him,) that it does not seem to be worth my time to review their faulty productions, nor even what Hipparchus has to say about them; since he neither enumerates all their blunders, nor yet sets them right, but only points out how

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they falsify and contradict each other. Still any one might certainly object to the saying of Eratosthenes, that Europe has but three headlands, and considering as one that which terminates by the Peloponnesus, notwithstanding it is broken up into so many divisions. In fact, Sunium [Note] is as much a promontory as Laconia, and not very much less south than Malea, [Note] forming a considerable bay, [Note] and the Thracian Chersonesus [Note] and Sunium [Note] form the Gulf of Melas, [Note] and likewise those of Macedonia. [Note] Added to this, it is manifest that the majority of the distances are falsely stated, thus arguing an ignorance of geography scarcely credible, and so far from requiring geometrical demonstration that it stands out prominent on the very face of the statements. For example, the distance from Epidamnus [Note] to the Thermaic Gulf [Note] is above 2000 stadia; Eratosthenes gives it at 900. So too he states the distance from Alexandria to Carthage at 13,000 [Note] stadia; it is not more than 9000, that is, if, as he himself tells us, Caria and Rhodes are under the same meridian as Alexandria, [Note] and the Strait of Messina under the same as Carthage, [Note] for every one is agreed that the voyage from Caria to the Strait of Sicily does not exceed 9000 stadia.

It is doubtless permissible in very great distances to consider as under one and the same meridian places which are not more east and west of each other than Carthage is west of the Strait; [Note] but an error of 3000 stadia is too much; and when he places Rome under the same meridian as Carthage, notwithstanding its being so far west of that city, it is but

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the crowning proof of his extreme ignorance both of these places, and likewise of the other countries farther west as far as the Pillars of Hercules. 2.1.41

Since Hipparchus does not furnish a Geography of his own, but merely reviews what is said in that of Eratosthenes, he ought to have gone farther, and corrected the whole of that writer's mistakes. As for ourselves, it is only in those particulars where Eratosthenes is correct (and we acknowledge that he frequently errs) that we have thought it our duty to quote his own words, in order to reinstate them in their position, and to defend him when he could be acquitted of the charges of Hipparchus; never failing to break a lance with the latter writer whenever his objections seemed to be the result of a mere propensity to find fault. But when Eratosthenes is grossly mistaken, and the animadversions of Hipparchus are just, we have thought it sufficient in our Geography to set him (Eratosthenes) right by merely stating facts as they are. As the mistakes were so continual and numerous, it was better not to mention them except in a sparse and general manner. This principle in the details we shall strive to carry out. In the present instance we shall only remark, that Timosthenes, Eratosthenes, and those who preceded them, were but ill acquainted with Iberia and Keltica, [Note] and a thousand times less with Germany, Britain, and the land of the Getæ and Bastarnæ. [Note] Their want of knowledge is also great in regard to Italy, the Adriatic, the Euxine, and the countries north of these. Possibly this last remark may be regarded as captious, since Eratosthenes states, that as to distant countries, he has merely given the admeasurements as he finds them supplied by others, without vouching for their accuracy, although he sometimes adds whether the route indicated is more or less in a right line. We should not therefore subject to a too rigorous examination distances as to which no one is agreed, after the manner Hipparchus does, both in regard to the places already mentioned, and also to those of which Eratosthenes has given the distance from Hyrcania to Bactria and the countries beyond, and those from

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Colchis to the Sea of Hyrcania. These are points where we should not scrutinize him so narrowly as [when he describes] places situated in the heart of our continent, [Note] or others equally well known; and even these should be regarded from a geographical rather than a geometrical point of view. Hipparchus, at the end of the second book of his Commentaries on the Geography of Eratosthenes, having found fault with certain statements relative to Ethiopia, tells us at the commencement of the third, that his strictures, though to a certain point geographical, will be mathematical for the most part. As for myself, I cannot find any geography there. To me it seems entirely mathematical; but Eratosthenes himself set the example; for he frequently runs into scientific speculations, having little to do with the subject in hand, and which result in vague and inexact conclusions. Thus he is a mathematician in geography, and in mathematics a geographer; and so lies open to the attacks of both parties. In this third book, both he and Timosthenes get such severe justice, that there seems nothing left for us to do; Hipparchus is quite enough.

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