Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 2.1.34 Str. 2.1.36 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 2.1.38

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.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 2.1.34 Str. 2.1.36 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 2.1.38

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