Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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After this Polybius proceeds to set right the mistakes of' Eratosthenes. In this he is sometimes successful; at others his corrections are for the worse. For example, Eratosthenes gives 300 stadia from Ithaca to Corcyra; Polybius makes it above 900. From Epidamnus to Thessa- lonica Eratosthenes allows 900 stadia; Polybius says above 2000. In these instances he is correct. But where Era- tosthenes states that from Marseilles to the Pillars there are 7000 stadia, and from the Pyrenees [to the same place] 6000, and Polybius alters this to more than 9000 from Mar- seilles, and little less than 8000 from the Pyrenees, [Note] he is quite mistaken, and not so near to the truth as Eratos- thenes. For all are now agreed that, barring the indirect- ness of the roads, the whole length of Iberia is not more than 6000 stadia [Note] from the Pyrenees to its western limits; notwithstanding Polybius gives 8000 stadia for the length of the river Tagus, from its source to its outlets, and this in a straight line without any reference to its sinuosities, which in fact never enter into the geographical estimate, although the sources of the Tagus are above 1000 stadia from the Pyrenees. His remark is quite correct, that Eratosthenes knew little about Iberia, and on this account sometimes makes conflicting statements concerning it. He tells us, for example, that the portion of this country situated on the sea- coast as far as Gades is inhabited by Galatæ, [Note] who possess western Europe as far as Gades; nevertheless, in his account of Iberia he seems quite to have forgotten this, and makes no mention of these Galatæ whatever. 2.4.5

Again, however, Polybius makes an incorrect assertion, in stating that the whole length of Europe is unequal to that of Africa and Asia taken together. He tells us "that the en-

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trance at the Pillars corresponds in direction to the equinoctial west, and that the Don flows from the summer rising, [Note] consequently the length of Europe is less than that of Asia and Africa taken together by the space between the summer rising and the equinoctial rising, [Note] since Asia occupies the eastern portion of the northern semicircle. Now, in addition to the obscurity which Polybius throws over subjects which might have been simply stated, it is false that the river Don flows from the summer rising. For all who are acquainted with these localities inform us that this river flows from the north into the Mæotis, so that the mouth of the river lies under the same meridian as that of the Mæotis; and so in fact does the whole river as far as is known. [Note] 2.4.6

Equally unworthy of credit is the statement of those who tell us, that the Don rises in the vicinity of the Danube, and flows from the west; they do not remember that between these are the Dniester, the Dnieper, and the Bog, all great rivers, which flow [into the Euxine Sea]; one runs parallel to the Danube, the other two to the Don. Now if at the present day we are ignorant of the sources both of the Dniester, and also of the Dnieper and Bog, the regions farther north must certainly be still less known. It is therefore a fictitious and idle assertion, that the Don crosses these rivers, and then turns northward on its way to discharge itself into the Mæbtis, it being well known that the outlets to this river are in the most northern and eastern portions of the lake. [Note]

No less idle is the statement which has also been advanced. that the Don, after crossing the Caucasus, flows northward and then turns towards the Mæotis. [Note] No one, however, [with the exception of Polybius,] made this river flow from the east If such were its course, our best geographers would never

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have told us that its direction was contrary to that of the Nile, and, so to speak, diametrically opposite thereto, as if the course of both rivers lay under the same meridian. 2.4.7

Further, the length of the inhabited earth is measured on a line parallel with the equator, as it is in this direction that its greatest length lies: in the same way with respect to each of the continents, we must take their length as it lies between two meridians. The measure of these lengths consists of a certain number of stadia, which we obtain either by going over the places themselves, or roads or ways parallel thereto. Polybius abandons this method, and adopts the new way of taking the segment of the northern semicircle comprised between the summer rising and the equinoctial rising. But no one ought to calculate by variable rules or measures in determining the length of fixed distances: nor yet should he make use of the phenomena of the heavens, which appear different when observed from different points, for distances which have their length determined by themselves and remain unchanged. The length of a country never varies, but depends upon itself; whereas, the equinoctial rising and setting, and the summer and winter rising and setting, depend not on themselves, but on our position [with respect to them]. As we shift from place to place, the equinoctial rising and setting, and the winter and summer rising and setting, shift with us; but the length of a continent always- remains the same. To make the Don and the Nile the bounds of -these continents, is nothing out of the way, but it is something strange to employ for this purpose the equinoctial rising and the summer rising.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 2.4.3 Str. 2.4.6 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 2.5.1

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