Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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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

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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.

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CHAPTER V. 2.5.1

AFTER these criticisms on the writers who have preceded us, we must now confine our attention to the ful- filment of our promise. We start with a maxim we laid down at the commencement, that whoever undertakes to write a Chorography, should receive as axioms certain physical and mathematical propositions, and frame the rest of his work in accordance with, and in full reliance on, these principles. We have already stated [our opinion], that neither builder nor architect could build house or city properly and as it ought to be, unless acquainted with the climax of the place, its position in respect to celestial appearances, its shape, magnitude, degree of heat and cold, and similar facts; much less should he [be without such information] who undertakes to describe the situation of the various regions of the inhabited earth.

Represent to the mind on one and the same plane-surface Iberia and India with the intermediate countries, and define likewise the west, the east, and the south, which are common to every country. To a man already acquainted with the arrangement and motions of the heavens, and aware that in reality the surface of the earth is spherical, although here for the sake of illustration represented as a plane, this will give a sufficiently exact idea of the geographical [position of the various countries], but not to one who is unacquainted with those matters. The tourist travelling over vast plains like those of Babylon, or journeying by sea, may fancy that the whole country stretched before, behind, and on either side of him is a plane-surface; he may be unacquainted with the counter- indications of the celestial phenomena, and with the motions and appearance of the sun and stars, in respect to us. But such facts as these should ever be present to the mind of those who compose Geographies The traveller, whether by sea or land, is directed by certain common appearances, which answer equally for the direction both of the unlearned and of the man of the world. Ignorant of astronomy, and unacquainted with the varied aspect of the heavens, he be-

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holds the sun rise and set, and attain the meridian, but with- out considering how this takes place. Such knowledge could not aid the object he has in view, any more than to know whether the country he chances to be in may be under the same latitude as his own or not. Even should he bestow a slight attention to the subject, on all mathematical points he will adopt the opinions of the place; and every country has certain mistaken views of these matters. But it is not for any particular nation, nor for the man of the world who cares nothing for abstract mathematics, still less is it for the reaper or ditcher, that the geographer labours; but it is for him who is convinced that the earth is such as mathematicians declare it to be, and who admits every other fact resulting from this hypothesis. He requests that those who approach him shall have already settled this in their minds as a fact, that they may be able to lend their whole attention to other points. He will advance nothing which is not a consequence of these primary facts; therefore those who hear him, if they have a knowledge of mathematics, will readily be able to turn his instructions to account; for those who are destitute of this information he does not pretend to expound Geography.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 2.4.6 Str. 2.5.1 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 2.5.3

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