Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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Polybius asks, How is it possible that a private individual, and one too in narrow circumstances, could ever have performed such vast expeditions by sea and land? And how could Eratosthenes, who hesitates whether he may rely on his statements in general, place such entire confidence in what that writer narrates concerning Britain, Gades, and Iberia? says he, it would have been better had Eratosthenes trusted to the Messenian [Note] rather than to this writer. The former

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merely pretends to have sailed into one [unknown] country, viz. Panchæa, but the latter, that he has visited the whole of the north of Europe as far as the ends of the earth; which statement, even had it been made by Mercury, we should not have believed. Nevertheless Eratosthenes, who terms Euhemerus a Bergæan, gives credit to Pytheas, although even Dicæarchus would not believe him.

This argument, although even Dicæarchus would not believe him, is ridiculous, just as if Eratosthenes ought to take for his standard a writer whom Polybius is himself for ever complaining of. [Note]

The ignorance of Eratosthenes respecting the western and northern portions of Europe, we have before remarked. But both he and Dicæarchus must be pardoned for this, as neither of them were personally familiar with those localities. But how can one excuse Polybius and Posidonius? especially Polybius, who treats as mere hearsay what Eratosthenes and Dicæarchus report concerning the distances of various places; and many other matters, about which, though he blames them, he is not himself free from error. Dicæarchus states that there are 10,000 stadia from the Peloponnesus to the Pillars, and something above this number from the Peloponnesus to the recess of the Adriatic. [Note] He supposes 3000 stadia between the Peloponnesus and the Strait of Sicily; thus there would remain 7000 between the Strait of Sicily and the Pillars. [Note]

I will not inquire, says Polybius, whether the statement concerning the 3000 stadia is correct or not, but 7000 stadia

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is not the correct measure [from the Strait of Messina to the Pillars of Hercules], whether taken along the sea-shore, or right across the sea. The coast closely resembles an obtuse angle, one side reaching to the Strait of Sicily, the other to the Pillars, the vertex being Narbonne. Now let a triangle be constructed, having for its base a right line drawn through the sea, and its sides forming the aforementioned angle. The side reaching from the Strait of Sicily to Narbonne is above 11,200 stadia, while the other is below 8000. Now the greatest distance from Europe to Libya, across the Tyrrhenian Sea, [Note] is not above 3000 stadia, and across the Sea of Sardinia [Note] it is less still. But supposing that it too is 3000 stadia add to this 2000 stadia, the depth of the bay at Narbonne as a perpendicular from the vertex to the base of the obtuse- angled triangle. It will, then, be clear even to the geometrical powers of a child, that the entire coast from the Strait of Sicily to the Pillars, does not exceed by more than 500 stadia the right line drawn across the sea; adding to these the 3000 stadia from the Peloponnesus to the Strait of Sicily, the whole taken together will give a straight line [Note] above double the length assigned by Dicæarchus; and, according to his system, you must add in addition to these the stadia at the recess of the Adriatic. 2.4.3

True, dear Polybius, (one might say,) this error [of Dicæarchus] is manifested by the proof which you yourself have given when you inform us that from the Peloponnesus to Leucas [Note] there are 700 stadia; from thence to Corcyra [Note] the same number; and the same number again from Corcyra to the Ceraunian Mountains; [Note] and from the Ceraunian Mountains to Iapygia, [Note] following the coast of Illyria on the right, 6150 stadia. [Note] But the statement of Dicæarchus, that the

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distance from the Strait of Sicily to the Pillars is 7000 stadia, and also your view of the matter, are both of them equally incorrect. For almost every one is agreed that the distance measured straight across the sea is 12,000 stadia, and this coincides with the received calculation of the length of the inhabited earth, which is estimated at above 70,000 stadia; the western portion of this from the Gulf of Issus [Note] to the extreme western point of Iberia is little less than 30,000 stadia, and is thus calculated: from the Gulf of Issus to Rhodes 5000 stadia; from thence to Cape Salmonium, [Note] which forms the eastern extremity of Crete, 1000; the length of Crete to Criu-metopon [Note] above 2000; thence to Cape Pachynus [Note] in Sicily 4500, and from Pachynus to the Strait of Sicily above 1000 stadia; the run from the Strait to the Pillars 12,000 and lastly, from the Pillars to the extremity of the said promontory [Note] of Iberia, about 3000 stadia. [Note]

In addition to this, the perpendicular [Note] is not correct, supposing it true that Narbonne lies under almost the same parallel as Marseilles, and that this latter place is under the same parallel as Byzantium; which is the opinion of Hipparchus. Now the line drawn across the sea lies under the same parallel as the Strait [of the Pillars] and Rhodes; and the distance from Rhodes to Byzantium, which both lie under the same meridian, is estimated at about 5000 stadia; to which the above-mentioned perpendicular ought to be equal. But since they say that from the recess of the Galatic Gulf, the greatest distance across the sea from Europe to Libya is 5000 stadia, it seems to me that either there is some error in this statement, or that at this point Libya must incline very much to the north, and so come under the same parallel as the Pillars. Polybius is likewise mistaken in telling us that this said perpendicular terminates close to Sardinia; for instead of being lose to Sardinia, it is far west thereof, having almost the whole of the sea of Liguria [Note] between it and that

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island. Besides this he makes the length of the sea-coast too great; but this [error] is not so considerable [as the two preceding].

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 2.3.8 Str. 2.4.3 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 2.4.6

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