Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 2.4.4 Str. 2.4.7 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 2.5.1

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-

-- 162 --

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

-- 163 --

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. 2.4.8

Of the many promontories formed by Europe, a better description is given by Polybius than by Eratosthenes; but even his is not sufficient. Eratosthenes only names three; one at the Pillars of Hercules, where Iberia is situated; a second at the Strait of Sicily, and containing Italy; the third terminated by the Cape of Malea, [Note] comprising all the countries situated between the Adriatic, the Euxine, and the Don. The two former of these Polybius describes in the same manner

-- 164 --

as Eratosthenes, but the third, which is equally terminated by the Cape of Malea [Note] and Cape Sunium, [Note] [he makes to] comprehend the whole of Greece, Illyria, and some portion of Thrace. [He supposes] a fourth, containing the Thracian Chersonesus and the countries contiguous to the Strait, [Note] betwixt Sestos and Abydos. This is occupied by the Thracians. Also a fifth, about the Kimmerian Bosphorus and the mouth of the Mæotis. Let us allow [to Polybius] his two former [promontories], they are clearly distinguished by unmistakeable bays; the first by the bay between Calpé [Note] and the Sacred Promontory [Note] where Gades [Note] is situated, as also by the sea between the Pillars and Sicily; the second [Note] by the latter sea and the Adriatic, [Note] although it may be objected that the extremity of Iapygia, [Note] being a promontory in itself, causes Italy to have a double cape. But as for the remaining [pro- montories of Polybius], they are plainly much more irregular, and composed of many parts, and require some other division- So likewise his plan of dividing [Europe] into six parts, similar to that of the promontories, is liable to objection.

However, we will set to rights each of these errors separately, as we meet with them, as well as the other blunders into which he has fallen in his description of Europe, and the journey round Africa. For the present we think that we have sufficiently dwelt on those of our predecessors whom we have thought proper to introduce as testimonies in our behalf, that both in the matter of correction and addition we had ample cause to undertake the present work.

-- 165 --



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 2.4.4 Str. 2.4.7 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 2.5.1

Powered by PhiloLogic