Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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WE will now proceed to examine the statements made by Posidonius in his Treatise on the Ocean. This Treatise contains much geographical information, sometimes given in a manner conformable to the subject, at others too mathematical. It will not, therefore, be amiss to look into some of his statements, both now and afterwards, as opportunity occurs, taking care to confine ourselves within bounds. He deals simply with geography, when he tells us that the earth is spheroidal and the universe too, and admits the necessary consequences of this hypothesis, one of which is, that the earth contains five zones. 2.2.2

Posidonius informs us that Parmenides was the first to make this division of the earth into five zones, but that he almost doubled the size of the torrid zone, which is situated between the tropics, by bringing it beyond these into the temperate zones. [Note] But according to Aristotle the torrid zone is contained between the tropics, the temperate zones occupying the whole space between the tropics and the arctic circles. [Note] Both of these divisions Posidonius justly condemns, for the torrid zone is properly the space rendered uninhabitable by the heat. Whereas more than half of the space between the tropics is inhabited, as we may judge by the Ethiopians who dwell above Egypt. The equator divides the whole of this space into two equal parts. Now from Syene,

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which is the limit of the summer tropic, to Meroe, there are 5000 stadia, and thence to the parallel of the Cinnamon region, where the torrid zone commences, 3000 stadia. The whole of this distance has been measured, and it may be gone over either by sea or land; the remaining portion to the equator is, if we adopt the measure of the earth supplied by Eratosthenes, 8800 stadia. Therefore, as 16,800 is to 8800, so is the space comprised between the tropics to the breadth of the torrid zone.

If of the more recent measurements we prefer those which diminish the size of the earth, such as that adopted by Posidonius, which is about 180,000 stadia, [Note] the torrid zone will still only occupy half, or rather more than half, of the space comprised between the tropics; but never an equal space. [Respecting the system of Aristotle, Posidonius farther says,] Since it is not every latitude which has Arctic Circles, [Note] and even those which do possess them have not the same, how can any one determine by them the bounds of the temperate zones, which are immutable? Nothing however is proved [against Aristotle] from the fact that there are not Arctic Circles for every latitude, since they exist for all the inhabitants of the temperate zone, on whose account alone the zone receives its name of temperate. But the objection that the Arctic Circles do not remain the same for every latitude, but shift their places, is excellent. [Note] 2.2.3

Posidonius, who himself divides the earth into zones, tells us that five is the number best suited for the explanation of the celestial appearances, two of these are periscii, [Note] which reach from the poles to the point where the tropics serve for Arctic Circles; two more are heteroscii, [Note] which extend from

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the former to the inhabitants of the tropics, and one between the tropics, which is called amrphiscius, [Note] but for matters relative to the earth, it is convenient to suppose two other narrow zones placed under the tropics, and divided by then into two halves, over which [every year] for the space of a fortnight, the sun is vertical. [Note] These zones are remarkable for being extremely arid and sandy, producing no vegetation with the exception of silphium, [Note] and a parched grain somewhat resembling wheat. This is caused by there being no mountains to attract the clouds and produce rain, nor any rivers flowing [Note] through the country. The consequence is that the various species [Note] are born with woolly hair, crumpled horns, protruding lips, and wide nostrils; their extremities being as, it were gnarled. Within these zones also dwell the Ichthyophagi. [Note] He further remarks, that these peculiarities are quite sufficient to distinguish the zones in question: those which are farther south having a more salubrious atmosphere, and being more fruitful and better supplied with water.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 2.1 Str. 2.2 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 2.3

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