Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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In what follows we shall suppose the chart drawn on a plane-surface; and our descriptions shall consist of what we ourselves have observed in our travels by land and sea, and of what we conceive to be credible in the statements and writings of others. For ourselves, in a westerly direction we

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have travelled from Armenia to that part of Tyrrhenia [Note] which is over against Sardinia; and southward, from the Euxine to the frontiers of Ethiopia. [Note] Of all the writers on Geography, not one can be mentioned who has travelled over a wider extent of the countries described than we have. Some may have gone farther to the west, but then they have never been so far east as we have; again, others may have been farther east, but not so far west; and the same with respect to north and south. However, in the main, both we and they have availed ourselves of the reports of others, from which to describe the form, the size, and the other peculiarities of the country, what they are and how many, in the same way that the mind forms its conceptions from the information of the senses. The figure, colour, and size of an apple, its scent, feel to the touch, and its flavour, are particulars communicated by the senses, from which the mind forms its conception of an apple. So in large figures, the senses observe the various parts, while the mind combines into one conception what is thus seen. And in like manner, men eager after knowledge, trusting to those who have been to various places, and to [the descriptions of] travellers in this or that country, gather into one sketch a view of the whole habitable earth.

In the same way, the generals perform every thing, nevertheless, they are not present every where, but most of their success depends on others, since they are obliged to trust to messengers, and issue their commands in accordance with the reports of others. To pretend that those only can know who have themselves seen, is to deprive hearing of all confidence, which, after all, is a better servant of knowledge than sight itself. 2.5.12

Writers of the present day can describe with more certainty [than formerly] the Britons, the Germans, and the dwellers on either side of the Danube, the Getæ, [Note] the Tyrigetæ, the Bastarnæ, [Note] the tribes dwelling by the Caucasus, such as the

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Albanians and Iberians. [Note] We are besides possessed of a description of Hyrcania [Note] and Bactriana in the Histories of Parthia written by such men as Apollodorus of Artemita, [Note] who leave detailed the boundaries [of those countries] with greater accuracy than other geographers.

The entrance of a Roman army into Arabia Felix under the command of my friend and companion ælius Gallus, [Note] and the traffic of the Alexandrian merchants whose vessels pass up the Nile and Arabian Gulf [Note] to India, have rendered us much better acquainted with these countries than our predecessors were. I was with Gallus at the time he was prefect of Egypt, and accompanied him as far as Syene and the frontiers of Ethiopia, and I found that about one hundred and twenty ships sail from Myos-hormos [Note] to India, although, in the time of the Ptolemies, scarcely any one would venture on this voyage and the commerce with the Indies. 2.5.13

Our first and most imperative duty [Note] then, both in respect to science and to the necessities of the man of business, is to undertake to lay down the projection of the different countries on the chart in as clear a style as possible, and to signify at the same time the relation and proportion they bear to the whole earth. For such is the geographer's peculiar province. It belongs to another science to give an exact description of the whole earth, and of the entire vertebre of either zone, and

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as to whether the vertebre in the opposite quarter of the earth is inhabited. That such is the case is most probable, but not that it is inhabited by the same race of men as dwell with us. And it must therefore be regarded as another habitable earth. We however have only to describe our own. 2.5.14

In its figure the habitable earth resembles a chlamys, or soldier's cloak, the greatest breadth of which would be indicated by a line drawn in the direction of the Nile, commencing from the parallel of the Cinnamon Country, and the Island of the Egyptian Exiles, and terminating at the parallel of Ierna; and its length by a line drawn from the west at right angles to the former, passing by the Pillars of Hercules and the Strait of Sicily to Rhodes and the Gulf of Issus, [Note] then proceeding along the chain of the Taurus, which divides Asia, and terminating in the Eastern Ocean, [Note] between India and the Scythians dwelling beyond Bactriana.

We must therefore fancy to ourselves a parallelogram, and within it a chlamys-shaped figure, described in such a manner that the length of the one figure may correspond to the length and size of the other, and likewise breadth to breadth. The habitable earth will therefore be represented by this kind of chlamys. We have before said that its breadth is marked out by parallels bounding its sides, and separating on either side the portions that are habitable from those that are not. On the north [these parallels] pass over Ierna, [Note] and on the side of the torrid zone over the Cinnamon Country. These lines being produced east and west to the opposite extremities of the habitable earth, form, when joined by the perpendiculars falling from their extremities, a kind of parallelogram. That within this the habitable earth is contained is evident, since neither its greatest breadth nor length project beyond. That in configuration it resembles a chlamys is also clear, from the fact that at either end of its length, the extremities taper to a point. [Note] Owing to the encroachments of the sea, it

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also loses something in breadth. This we know from those who have sailed round its eastern and western points. They inform us that the island called Taprobana [Note] is much to the south of India, but that it is nevertheless inhabited, and is situated opposite to the island of the Egyptians and the Cinnamon Country, as the temperature of their atmospheres is similar. On the other side the country about the embouchure of the Hyrcanian Sea [Note] is farther north than the farthest Scythians who dwell beyond India, and Ierna still more so. It is likewise stated of the country beyond the Pillars of Hercules, that the most western point of the habitable earth is the promontory of the Iberians named the Sacred Promontory. [Note] It lies nearly in a line with Gades, the Pillars of Hercules, the Strait of Sicily, and Rhodes; [Note] for they say that the horologes accord, as also the periodical winds, and the duration of the longest nights and days, which consist of fourteen and a half equinoctial hours. From the coast of Gades and Iberia ......... is said to have been formerly observed. [Note]

Posidonius relates, that from the top of a high house in a town about 400 stadia distant from the places mentioned, he perceived a star which he believed to be Canopus, both in consequence of the testimony of those who having proceeded a little to the south of Iberia affirmed that they could perceive it, and also of the tradition preserved at Cnidus; for the observatory of Eudoxus, from whence he is reported to have viewed Canopus, is not much higher than these houses; and Cnidus is under the same parallel as Rhodes, which is likewise that of Gades and its sea-coast.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 2.5.10 Str. 2.5.12 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 2.5.17

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