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

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 2.1.20 Str. 2.1.23 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 2.1.28

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