Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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Here too is the strait, seven stadia in length, which is between Sestos [Note] and Abydos, [Note] and through which the ægæan and Hellespont communicate with another sea to the north, named the Propontis, [Note] and this again with another called the Euxine. This latter is, so to speak, a double sea, for towards its middle are two projecting promontories, one to the north, on the side of Europe, and the other opposite from the coast of Asia, which leave only a narrow passage between them, and thus form two great seas. The European promontory is named Criu-metopon; [Note] that of Asia, Carambis. [Note] They are distant from each other about 2500 stadia. [Note] The length of the western portion of this sea [Note] from Byzantium to the outlets of the Dnieper is 3800 stadia, its breadth 2000. Here is situated the Island of Leuca. [Note] The eastern portion is oblong and terminates in the narrow recess in which Dioscurias is situated. In length it is 5000 stadia, or rather more, and in breadth about 3000. The entire circumference of the Euxine is about 25,000 stadia. Some have compared the shape of its circumference to a Scythian bow when bent, the string representing the southern portions of the Euxine, (viz. the coast, from its mouth to the recess in which Dioscurias is situated; for, with the exception of Carambis, the sinuosities of the shore are but trifling, so that it

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may be justly compared to a straight line,) and the remainder [of the circumference representing] the wood of the bow with its double curve, the uppermost very much rounded, the lower more in a straight line. So this sea forms two gulfs, the western much more rounded than the other. 2.5.23

To the north of the eastern Gulf of the Pontus, is the Lake Mæotis, whose perimeter is 9000 stadia or rather more. It communicates with the Euxine by means of the Cimmerian Bosphorus, [Note] and the Euxine with the Propontis [Note] by the Thracian Bosphorus, for such is the name given to the Strait of Byzantium, which is four stadia in breadth. The length of the Propontis from the Troad to Byzantium is stated to be 1500 stadia. Its breadth is about the same. It is in this sea that the Island of the Cyziceni [Note] is situated, with the other islands around it. 2.5.24

Such and so great is the extent of the ægæan Sea towards the north. [Note] Again, starting from Rhodes, the [Mediterranean] forms the seas of Egypt, Pamphylia, and Issus, extending in an easterly direction from Cilicia to Issus, a distance of 5000 stadia, along the coasts of Lycia, Pamphylia, and the whole of Cilicia. From thence Syria, Phœnicia, and Egypt surround the sea to the south and west as far as Alexandria. The Island of Cyprus is situated in the Gulfs of Issus and Pamphylia, close to the Sea of Egypt. The passage between Rhodes and Alexandria from north [to south] is about 4000 stadia; [Note] sailing round the coasts it is double this distance. Eratosthenes informs us that, although the above

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is the distance according to some mariners, others avow distinctly that it amounts to 5000 stadia; while he himself, from observations of the shadows indicated by the gnomon, calculates it at 3750.

That part of the Mediterranean Sea which washes the coasts of Cilicia and Pamphylia together with the right side of the Euxine, the Propontis, and the sea-coast beyond this as far as Pamphylia, form a kind of extensive Chersonesus, the isthmus of which is also large, and reaches from the sea near Tarsus [Note] to the city of Amisus, [Note] and thence to the Themiscyran [Note] plain of the Amazons. In fact the whole region within this line as far as Caria and Ionia, and the nations dwelling on this side the Halys, [Note] is entirely surrounded by the ægæan and the aforementioned parts of the Mediterranean and Euxine Seas. [Note] This is what we call Asia properly, [Note] although the whole continent bears the same name. 2.5.25

To speak shortly, the southernmost point of Our Sea is the recess of the Greater Syrtes; [Note] next to this Alexandria in Egypt, and the mouths of the Nile; while the most northerly is the mouth of the Dnieper, or if the Mæotis be considered to belong to the Euxine, (and it certainly does appear to form a part of it,) the mouth of the Don. The Strait at the Pillars is the most westerly point, and the most easterly is the said recess, in which Dioscurias [Note] is situated; and not, as Eratosthenes falsely states, the Gulf of Issus, [Note] which is under the same meridian as Amisus [Note] and Themiscyra, and, if you will have it so, Sidene as far as Pharnacia. [Note] Proceeding thence in an easterly direction to Dioscurias, the distance by sea is above 3000 stadia, as will be seen more plainly in my detailed account of those countries. Such then is the Mediterranean.

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We must now describe the countries which surround it; and here we will begin from the same point, whence we commenced our description of the sea itself.

Entering the Strait at the Pillars, Libya, as far as the river Nile, is on the right hand, and to the left, on the other side of the Strait, is Europe, as far as the Don. Asia bounds both these continents. We will commence with Europe, both because its figure is more varied, and also because it is the quarter most favourable to the mental and social ennoblement of man, and produces a greater portion of comforts than the other continents.

Now the whole of Europe is habitable with the exception of a small part, which cannot be dwelt in, on account of the severity of the cold, and which borders on the Hamaxœci, [Note] who dwell by the Don, Mæotis, and Dnieper. The wintry and mountainous parts of the habitable earth would seem to afford by nature but a miserable means of existence; nevertheless, by good management, places scarcely inhabited by any but robbers, may be got into condition. Thus the Greeks, though dwelling amidst rocks and mountains, live in comfort, owing to their economy in government and the arts, and all the other appliances of life. Thus too the Romans, after subduing numerous nations who were leading a savage life, either induced by the rockiness of their countries, or want of ports, or severity of the cold, or for other reasons scarcely habitable, have taught the arts of commerce to many who were formerly in total ignorance, and spread civilization amongst the most savage. Where the climate is equable and mild, nature herself does much towards the production of these advantages. As in such favoured regions every thing inclines to peace, so those which are sterile generate bravery and a disposition to war. These two races receive mutual advantages from each other, the one aiding by their arms, the other by their husbandry, arts, and institutions. Harm must result to both when failing to act in concert, but the advantage will lie on the side of those accustomed to arms, except in instances where they are overpowered by multitudes. This continent is very much favoured in this respect, being in-

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terspersed with plains and mountains, so that every where the foundations of husbandry, civilization, and hardihood lie side by side. The number of those who cultivate the arts of peace, is, however, the most numerous, which preponderance over the whole is mainly due to the influence of the government, first of the Greeks, and afterwards of the Macedonians and Romans.

Europe has thus within itself resources both for war [and peace]. It is amply supplied with warriors, and also with men fitted for the labours of agriculture, and the life of the towns. It is likewise distinguished for producing in perfection those fruits of the earth necessary to life, and all the useful metals. Perfumes and precious stones must be imported from abroad, but as far as the comfort of life is concerned, the want or the possession of these can make no difference. The country like- wise abounds in cattle, while of wild beasts the number is but small. Such is the general nature of this continent.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 2.5.21 Str. 2.5.23 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 2.5.29

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