Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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3.1.2

The first division of this continent towards the west is Iberia, as we before stated. The greater part of this country is but little fitted for habitation; consisting chiefly of mountains, woods, and plains covered with a light meagre soil, the irrigation of which is likewise uncertain The part next the north, which borders on the ocean, is extremely cold, and besides its rugged character, has no communication or intercourse with other [countries], and thus to dwell there is attended with peculiar hardship. Such is the character of this portion; on the other hand, almost the whole of the south is fertile, especially what is beyond the Pillars [of Hercules]. This however will be shown more in detail, but we must first describe the figure and extent [of the country]. 3.1.3

In shape it resembles a hide stretched out in length from west to east, the forepart [Note] towards the east, its breadth being from north to south. Its length is about 6000 stadia; the greatest breadth is 5000; while there are parts considerably less

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CAS. 137. [Note] than 3000, particularly in the vicinity of the Pyrenees, which form the eastern side. This chain of mountains stretches without interruption from north to south, [Note] and divides Keltica [Note] from Iberia. The breadth both of Keltica and Iberia is irregular, the narrowest part in both of them from the Mediterranean to the [Atlantic] Ocean being near the Pyrenees, particularly on either side of that chain; this gives rise to gulfs both on the side of the Ocean, and also of the Mediterranean; the largest of these are denominated the Keltic or Galatic Gulfs, [Note] and they render the [Keltic] Isthmus narrower than that of Iberia. [Note] The Pyrenees form the eastern side of Iberia, and the Mediterranean the southern from the Pyrenees to the Pillars of Hercules, thence the exterior [ocean] [Note] as far as the Sacred Promontory. [Note] The third or western side runs nearly parallel to the Pyrenees from the Sacred Promontory to the promontory of the Artabri, called [Cape] Nerium. [Note] The fourth side extends hence to the northern extremity of the Pyrenees. 3.1.4

We will now commence our detailed account, beginning from the Sacred Promontory. This is the most western point not only of Europe, but of the whole habitable earth. For the habitable earth is bounded to the west by two continents, namely, the extremities of Europe and Libya, [Note] which are inhabited respectively by the Iberians and the Maurusians. [Note] But the Iberian extremity, at the promontory [Note] we have mentioned, juts out beyond the other as much as 1500 stadia. [Note] The region adjacent to this cape they call in the Latin tongue Cu-

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neum, [Note] which signifies a wedge. The promontory which projects into the sea, Artemidorus (who states that he has himself been at the place) compares to a ship; three little islands, [he says,] each having a small harbour, contribute to give it this form; the former island resembling the beak of the ship, and the two latter the beams on each side of the ship's bows. [He adds] that there is no temple of Hercules shown there, as Ephorus falsely states, nor yet any altar [to him] nor to any other divinity; but in many parts there are three or four stones placed together, which are turned by all travellers who arrive there, in accordance with a certain local custom, and are changed in position by such as turn them incorrectly. [Note] It is not lawful to offer sacrifice there, nor yet to approach the place during the night, for it is said that then the gods take up their abode at the place. Those who go thither to view it stay at a neighbouring village over-night, and proceed to the place on the morrow, carrying water with them, as there is none to be procured there. 3.1.5

It is quite possible that these things are so, and we ought not to disbelieve them. Not so however with regard to the other common and vulgar reports; for Posidonius tells us the common people say that in the countries next the ocean the sun appears larger as he sets, and makes a noise resembling the sound of hot metal in cold water, as though the sea were hissing as the sun was submerged in its depths. The statement [of Artemidorus] is also false, that night follows immediately on the setting of the sun: it does not follow immediately, although certainly the interval is short, as in other great seas. For when he sets behind mountains the agency of the false light continues the day for a long period; over the sea the twilight is shorter, still darkness does not immediately supervene. The same thing may be remarked in large plains. The image of the sun is enlarged on the seas at its rising as well as at its setting, because at these times a larger mass of

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exhalations rises from the humid element; and the eye looking through these exhalations, sees images refracted into larger forms, as observed through tubes. The same thing happens when the setting sun or moon is seen through a dry and thin cloud, when those bodies likewise appear reddish. [Note] Posidonius tells us that, having himself passed thirty days at Gades, [Note] during which time he carefully observed the setting of the sun, he is convinced of the falsity of Artemidorus's account. This latter writer tells us, that at the time of its setting the sun appears a hundred times larger than its ordinary size, and that night immediately succeeds. If we attend to his account, we cannot believe that he himself remarked this phenomenon at the Sacred Promontory, [Note] for he tells us that no one can approach during the night; therefore they cannot approach at sunset, since night immediately supervenes thereupon. Neither did he observe it from any other part of the coast washed by the ocean, for Gades is upon the ocean, and both Posidonius and many others testify that there such is not the case.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 3.1.1 Str. 3.1.4 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 3.1.7

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