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



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 2.1.7 Str. 2.1.13 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 2.1.16

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