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

SUMMARY.

In the Second Book, having proposed for discussion the [opinions] of Eratosthenes, he examines and refutes whatever that writer may have incorrectly said, determined, or laid down. He likewise brings forward many statements of Hipparchus, which he disproves, and finishes with a short exposition or synopsis of the whole subject, namely, geographical knowledge.

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.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 1.4.8 Str. 2.1.2 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 2.1.9

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