Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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Our poet [Homer] being very explicit, and possessing great experience, gives one cause to believe that he was not unfamiliar with these localities. Of this any one may be convinced who will examine carefully what has been written on these points, both the incorrect [comments], and likewise those which are better and more truthful. One amongst these incorrect ideas is, that he considered [Tartessis] to be the farthest country towards the west, where, as he himself expresses it, The radiant sun in ocean sank,
Drawing night after him o'er all the earth. [Note]
Iliad viii. 485.
Now, since it is evident that night is ominous, and near to Hades, and Hades to Tartarus, it seems probable that [Homer], having heard of Tartessus, took thence the name of Tartarus to distinguish the farthest of the places beneath the earth, also embellishing it with fable in virtue of the poetic licence. In the same way, knowing that the Cimmerians dwelt in northern and dismal territories near to the Bosphorus, he located them

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in the vicinity of Hades; perhaps also on account of the common hatred of the Ionians against this people. For they say that in the time of Homer, or a little before, the Cimmerians made an incursion as far as æolia and Ionia. Always drawing his fables from certain real facts, his Planetæ [Note] are modelled on the Cyaneæ. He describes them as dangerous rocks, as they tell us the Cyaneæan rocks are, [and] on which account [in fact] they are called Symplegades. [Note] He adds to this [the account of] Jason's navigating through the midst of them. The Straits of the Pillars [Note] and Sicily, [Note] likewise, suggested to him the fable of the Planetæ. Thus, even according to the worst comments, from the fiction of Tartarus any one might gather that Homer was acquainted with the regions about Tartessus. 3.2.13

Of these facts, notwithstanding, there are better proofs. For instance, the expeditions of Hercules and the Phoenicians to this country were evidence to him of the wealth and luxury of the people. They fell so entirely under the dominion of the Phoenicians, that at the present day almost the whole of the cities of Turdetania and the neighbouring places are inhabited by them. It also seems to me that the expedition of Ulysses hither, as it took place and was recorded, was the foundation both of his Odyssey and Iliad, which he framed upon facts collected into a poem, and embellished as usual with poetical mythology. It is not only in Italy, Sicily, and a few other places that vestiges of these [events] occur; even in Iberia a city is shown named Ulyssea, [Note] also a temple of Minerva, and a myriad other traces both of the wandering of Ulysses and also of other survivors of the Trojan war, which was equally fatal to the vanquished and those who took Troy. These latter in fact gained a Cadmean victory, [Note] for their homes were destroyed, and the portion of booty which fell to each was exceedingly minute. Consequently not only those who had survived the perils [of their country], but the Greeks as well, betook themselves to piracy, the former because they

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had been pillaged of every thing; the latter, on account of the shame which each one anticipated to himself: The shame
That must attend us, after absence long
Returning unsuccessful, who can bear? [Note]
Iliad ii. 298.
In the same way is related the wandering of æneas, of Antenor, and of the Heneti; likewise of Diomedes, of Menelaus, of Ulysses, [Note] and of many others. Hence the poet, knowing of similar expeditions to the extremities of Iberia, and having heard of its wealth and other excellencies, (which the Phœnicians had made known,) feigned this to be the region of the Blessed, and the Plain of Elysium, where Proteus informs Menelaus that he is to depart to: But far hence the gods
Will send thee to Elysium, and the earth's
Extremest bounds; there Rhadamanthus dwells,
The golden-haired, and there the human kind
Enjoy the easiest life; no snow is there,
No biting winter, and no drenching shower,
But zephyr always gently from the sea
Breathes on them to refresh the happy race. [Note]
Odyssey iv. 563.
Now the purity of the air, and the gentle breathing of the zephyr, are both applicable to this country, as well as the softness of the climate, its position in the west, and its place at the extremities of the earth, where, as we have said, he feigned that Hades was. By coupling Rhadamanthus with it, he signifies that the place was near to Minos, of whom he says, There saw I Minos, offspring famed of Jove;
His golden sceptre in his hand, he sat
Judge of the dead. [Note]
Odyssey xi. 567. Bohn's edition.
Similar to these are the fables related by later poets; such, for instance, as the expeditions after the oxen of Geryon, and the

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golden apples of the Hesperides, the Islands of the Blessed [Note] they speak of, which we know are still pointed out to us not far distant from the extremities of Maurusia, and opposite to Gades.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 3.2.10 Str. 3.2.13 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 3.3.1

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