Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 2.1.14 Str. 2.1.17 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 2.1.20


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.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 2.1.14 Str. 2.1.17 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 2.1.20

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