Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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CHAPTER V. 3.5.1

OF the islands which are situated in front of Iberia, two named the Pityussæ, and two the Gymnasiæ, (also called the Baleares,) are situated on the sea-coast between Tarraco and [the river] Xucar, on which Saguntum [Note] is built. The Pityussæ are situated farther in the high seas and more to the West than the Gymnasiæ. One of the Pityusse is called Ebusus, [Note] having a city of the same name. This island is 400 stadia in circumference, and nearly equal in its breadth and length. The other, [named] Orpheus, is situated near to this, but's desert, and much smaller. The larger [Note] of the Gymna- siæ contains two cities, Palma, [Note] and Polentia; [Note] the latter lying towards the east, the former towards the west. The length of this island is scarcely less than 600 stadia, its breadth 200; although Artemidorus asserts it is twice this size both in breadth and length. [Note] The smaller island [Note] is about [2]70 stadia distant from Polentia; in size it is far surpassed by the larger island, but in excellence it is by no means inferior, for both of them are very fertile, and furnished with harbours. At the mouths of these however there are rocks rising but a little out of the water, which renders attention necessary in entering them. The fertility of these places inclines the inhabitants to peace, as also the people of Ebusus. But certain

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malefactors, though few in number, having associated with the pirates in those seas, they all got a bad name, and Metellus, surnamed Balearicus, marched against them. He it was who built the cities. But owing to the great fertility of the country, these people have always had enemies plotting against them. Although naturally disposed to peace, they bear the reputation of being most excellent slingers, which art they have been proficient in since the time that the Phœnicians possessed the islands. It is said that these [Note] were the first who introduced amongst the men [of the Baleares] the custom of wearing tunics with wide borders. They were accustomed to go into battle naked, having a shield covered with goat-skin in their hand, and a javelin hardened by fire at the point, very rarely with an iron tip, and wearing round the head three slings of black rush, [Note] hair, or sinew. The long sling they use for hitting at far distances, the short one for near marks, and the middle one for those between. From childhood they were so thoroughly practised in the use of slings, that bread was never distributed to the children till they had won it by the sling. [Note] On this account Metellus, when he was approaching the islands, spread pelts over the decks as a shelter from the slings. He introduced [into the country 3000 Roman colonists from Spain. 3.5.2

In addition to the fruitfulness of the land, noxious animals are rarely to be met with. Even the rabbits, they say, were not indigenous, but that a male and female having been introduced by some one from the opposite continent, from thence the whole stock sprung, which formerly was so great a nuisance that even houses and trees were overturned, [being undermined] by their warrens, and the inhabitants

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were compelled, as we have related, to resort for refuge to the Romans. However, at the present day the facility with which these animals are taken, prevents them from doing injury, consequently those who possess land cultivate it with advantage. These [islands] are on this side of what are called the Pillars of Hercules. 3.5.3

Near to them are two small islands, one of which is called the Island of Juno: some call these the Pillars. Beyond the Pillars is Gades, [Note] concerning which all that we have hitherto remarked is, that it is distant from Calpe [Note] about 750 stadia, and is situated near to the outlet of the Guadalquiver. [Note] Notwithstanding there is much can be said about it. For its inhabitants equip the greatest number of ships, and the largest in size, both for our sea, [Note] and the exterior [ocean], although the island they inhabit is by no means large, nor yet do they possess much of the mainland, nor are masters of other islands. They dwell for the most part on the sea, only a few staying at home or passing their time in Rome. Still, in amount of population, their city does not seem to be surpassed by any with the exception of Rome. I have heard that in a census taken within our own times, there were enumerated five hundred citizens of Gades of the equestrian order, a number equalled by none of the Italian cities excepting that of the Patavini. [Note] However, notwithstanding their vast number, its inhabitants possess an island, in length [Note] not much above 100 stadia, and in some places only one stadium in breadth. Originally the city in which they dwelt was extremely small, but Balbus [Note] the Gaditanian, who received the honours of a

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triumph, added another to it which they call the New Town. These two form the city of Didyme, [Note] which is not above twenty stadia in circumference. In it, however, they are not pressed for room, because few live at home, the majority passing their lives on the sea, some too dwelling on the opposite continent, and particularly on a little island adjacent on account of its excellence. They have such a liking for this place as almost to have made it a rival city to Didyme. However, few in comparison inhabit either this or the sea-port which Balbus constructed for them on the opposite continent. Their city is situated in the western parts of the island. Near to it is the temple of Saturn, which terminates [Gades to the west], and is opposite the smaller island. The temple of Hercules is on the other side, to the east, where the island approaches nearest to the mainland, being only separated therefrom by a strait of a stadium [in breadth]. [Note] They say that this temple is twelve miles from the city, thus making the number of miles and the number of [Hercules'] labours equal: but this is too great, being almost equal to the length of the island. Now the length of the island runs from west to east. 3.5.4

Pherecydes appears to have given to Gades the name of Erythia, the locality of the myths concerning Geryon: others suppose it to have been the island situated near to this city, and separated from it by a strait of merely one stadium. This they do on account of the excellence of its pasturage.

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For the milk of the cattle which feed there does not yield any whey, and they are obliged to mix it with large quantities of water when they make cheese on account of its richness. After fifty days the beasts [pasturing there] would be choked unless they were let blood. The pasturage of the country is dry, but it fattens wonderfully: and it is thought that from this the myth concerning the oxen of Geryon took its rise. The whole sea-shore however is possessed in common. [Note] 3.5.5

Concerning the foundation of Gades, the Gaditanians report that a certain oracle commanded the Tyrians to found a colony by the Pillars of Hercules. Those who were sent out for the purpose of exploring, when they had arrived at the strait by Calpe, imagined that the capes which form the strait were the boundaries of the habitable earth, as well as of the expedition of Hercules, and consequently they were what the oracle termed the Pillars. They landed on the inside of the straits, at a place where the city of the Exitani now stands. Here they offered sacrifices, which however not being favourable, they returned. After a time others were sent, who advanced about 1500 [Note] stadia beyond the strait, to an island consecrated to Hercules, and lying opposite to Onoba, a city of Iberia: considering that here were the Pillars, they sacrificed to the god, but the sacrifices being again unfavourable, they returned home. In the third voyage they reached Gades, and founded the temple in the eastern part of the island, and the city in the west. On this account some consider that the capes in the strait are the Pillars, others suppose Gades, while others again believe that they lie still farther, beyond Gades. There are also some who think that the Pillars are Calpe, [Note] and the mountain of Libya which is opposite, named Abilyx, [Note] and situated, according to Eratosthenes, amongst the Metagonians, a wandering race. Others fancy that they are two small islands near to the former, one of which is named the Island of Juno. Artemidorus speaks both of the Island of Juno and the temple there, but makes no mention either of mount Abilyx, or the nation of

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the Metagonians. [Note] Some have transported hither the Planctæ and the Symplgades, supposing them to be the Pillars, which Pindar calls the Gates of Gades, when he says that they were the farthest limits at which Hercules arrived. [Note] Dicæarchus, Eratosthenes, and Polybius, with most of the Grecians, represent the Pillars as being close to the strait, while the Iberians and Libyans place them at Gades, alleging that there is nothing at all resembling pillars close by the strait. Others pretend that they are the pillars of brass eight cubits high in the temple of Hercules at Gades, on which is inscribed the cost of erecting that edifice; and that the sailors coming there on the completion of their voyage and sacrificing to Hercules, rendered the place so famous that it came to be regarded as the termination of the land and sea. Posidonius thinks this view the most probable of all, and looks upon the oracle and the several expeditions as a Phoenician invention. [Note] As for the expeditions, what matters it whether any one should vehemently deny or credit the account, as neither the one nor the other would be inconsistent with reason: but the assertion that neither the little islands, nor yet the mountains, bear much resemblance to pillars, and that we should seek for pillars, strictly so called, [set up] either as the termination of the habitable earth, or of the expedition of Hercules, has at all events some reason in it; it being an ancient usage to set up such boundary marks. As for instance the small column which the inhabitants of Rhegium [Note] erected by the Strait of Sicily, which is indeed a little tower; and the tower called after Pelorus, which is situated opposite to this small column; also the structures called altars [Note] of the Philæni, about midway in the land between the Syrtes; likewise it is recorded, that a certain pillar was formerly erected on the Isthmus of Corinth, which the Ionians who took possession of Attica and Megaris when they were driven out of the Peloponnesus, and those who settled in the Peloponnesus, set up in common, and inscribed on the side next Megaris,

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This is no longer Peloponnesus, but Ionia,
and on the opposite, This is Peloponnesus, not Ionia.
Alexander too erected altars as boundaries of his Indian campaign in those parts of the Indies he arrived at, which were situated farthest towards the east, in imitation of Hercules and Bacchus. [Note] That this custom existed, then, cannot be doubted. 3.5.6

It is probable that the places themselves took the same name [as the monuments], especially after time had destroyed the boundary marks which had been placed there. For instance, at the present day the altars of the Philæni no longer exist, but the place itself bears that designation. Similarly they say that in India neither the pillars of Hercules or Bacchus are to be seen, nevertheless certain localities being described and pointed out to the Macedonians, they believed that those places were the pillars in which they discovered any trace either of the adventures of Bacchus or Hercules. In the instance before us, it is not improbable that they who first [visited these regions], set up boundary marks fashioned by the hand of man, such as altars, towers, and pillars, in the most remarkable situations, to indicate the farthest distance they had reached, (and straits, the surrounding mountains, and little islands, are indubitably the most remarkable situations for pointing out the termination or commencement of places,) and that after these human monuments had decayed, their names descended to the places [where they had stood]; whether that were the little islands or the capes forming the strait. This latter point it would not be easy now to determine; the name would suit either place, as they both bear some resemblance to pillars; I say bear some resemblance, because they are placed in such situations as might well indicate boundaries. Now this strait is styled a mouth, as well as many others, but the mouth is at the beginning to those sailing into the strait, and to those who are quitting it at the end. The little islands at the mouth having a contour easy to describe, and being remarkable, one might not improperly compare to pillars. In like manner the mountains overlooking the strait are promi-

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nent, resembling columns or pillars. So too Pindar might very justly have said, The Gaditanian Gates, if he had in mind the pillars at the mouth; for these mouths are very similar to gates. On the other hand, Gades is not in a position to indicate an extremity, but is situated about the middle of a long coast forming a kind of gulf. The supposition that the pillars of the temple of Hercules in Gades are intended, appears to me still less probable. It seems most likely that the name was originally conferred not by merchants, but generals, its celebrity afterwards became universal, as was the case with the Indian pillars. Besides, the inscription recorded refutes this idea, since it contains no religious dedication, but a mere list of expenses; whereas the pillars of Hercules should have been a record of the hero's wonderful deeds, not of Phoenician expenditure. 3.5.7

Polybius relates that there is a spring within the temple of Hercules at Gades, having a descent of a few steps to fresh water, which is affected in a manner the reverse of the sea- tides, subsiding at the flow of the tide, and springing at the ebb. He assigns as the cause of this phenomenon, that air rises from the interior to the surface of the earth; when this surface is covered by the waves, at the rising of the sea, the air is deprived of its ordinary vents, and returns to the interior, stopping up the passages of the spring, and causing a want of water, but when the surface is again laid bare, the air having a direct exit liberates the channels which feed the spring, so that it gushes freely. Artemidorus rejects this explanation, and substitutes one of his own, recording at the same time the opinion of the historian Silanus; but neither one or other of their views seems to me worth relating, since both he and Silanus were ignorant in regard to these matters. Posidonius asserts that the entire account is false, and adds that there are two wells in the temple of Hercules, and a third in the city. That the smaller of the two in the temple of Hercules, if drawn from frequently, will become for a time exhausted, but that on ceasing to draw from it, it fills again: while in regard to the larger, it may be drawn from during the whole day; that it is true it becomes lower, like all other wells, but that it fills again during the night when drawing ceases. [He adds] that the ebb tide frequently happening to occur during the period of its re-filling, gave rise

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to the groundless belief of the inhabitants as to its being affected in an opposite manner [to the tides of the ocean]. However it is not only related by him that it is a commonly believed fact, but we have received it from tradition as much referred to amongst paradoxes. [Note] We have likewise heard that there are wells both within the city and also in the gardens without, but that on account of the inferiority of this water, tanks are generally constructed throughout the city for the supply of water: whether likewise any of these reservoirs give any signs of being affected in an opposite manner to the tides, we know not. If such be the case, the causes thereof should be received as amongst phenomena hard to be explained. It is likely that Polybius may have assigned the proper reason; but it is also likely that certain of the channels of the springs being damped outside become relaxed, and so let the water run out into the surrounding land, instead of forcing it along its ancient passage to the spring; and there will of course be moisture when the tide overflows. [Note] But if, as Athenodorus asserts, the ebb and flow resemble the inspiration and expiration of the breath, it is possible that some of the currents of water which naturally have an efflux on to the surface of the earth, through various channels, the mouths of which we denominate springs and fountains, are by other channels drawn towards the depths of the sea, and raise it, so as to produce a flood-tide; when the expiration is sufficient, they leave off the course in which they are then flowing, and again revert to their former direction, when that again takes a change. [Note] 3.5.8

I cannot tell how it is that Posidonius, who describes the Phœnicians as sagacious in other things, should here attribute

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to them folly rather than shrewdness. The sun completes his revolution in the space of a day and night, being a portion of the time beneath the earth, and a portion of the time shining upon it. Now he asserts that the motion of the sea corresponds with the revolution of the heavenly bodies, and experiences a diurnal, monthly, and annual change, in strict accordance with the changes of the moon. For [he continues] when the moon is elevated one sign of the zodiac [Note] above the horizon, the sea begins sensibly to swell and cover the shores, until she has attained her meridian; but when that satellite begins to decline, the sea again retires by degrees, until the moon wants merely one sign of the zodiac from setting; it then remains stationary until the moon has set, and also descended one sign of the zodiac below the horizon, when it again rises until she has attained her meridian below the earth; it then retires again until the moon is within one sign of the zodiac of her rising above the horizon, when it remains stationary until the moon has risen one sign of the zodiac above the earth, and then begins to rise as before. Such he describes to be the diurnal revolution. In respect to the monthly revolution, [he says] that the spring-tides occur at the time of the new moon, when they decrease until the first quarter; they then increase until full moon, when they again decrease until the last quarter, after which they increase till the new moon; [he adds] that these increases ought to be understood both of their duration and speed. In regard to the annual revolution, he says that he learned from the statements of the Gaditanians, that both the ebb and flow tides were at their extremes at the summer solstice: and that hence he conjectured that they decreased until the [autumnal] equinox; then increased till the winter solstice; then decreased again until the vernal equinox; and [finally] increased until the summer solstice. But since these revolutions occur twice in the four-and-twenty hours, the sea rising twice and receding twice, and that regularly every day and night, how is it that the filling and failing of the well do not frequently occur during the ebb and flow of the tide? or if it be allowed that this does often occur, why does it not do so in the same proportion? and if it does so in the same proportion, how comes it that the Gaditanians are not

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competent to observe what is of daily occurrence, while they are nevertheless competent to the observing of revolutions which occur but once in the year. That Posidonius himself credited these reports is evident from his own conjecture respecting the decrease and increase [of the sea] from solstice to solstice. However, it is not likely, being an observant people, that they should be ignorant of what actually occurred, whilst giving credit to imaginary phenomena. 3.5.9

Posidonius tells us that Seleucus, a native of the country next the Erythræan Sea, [Note] states that the regularity and irregularity of the ebb and flow of the sea follow the different positions of the moon in the zodiac; that when she is in the equinoctial signs the tides are regular, but that when she is in the signs next the tropics, the tides are irregular both in their height and force; and that for the remaining signs the irregularity is greater or less, according as they are more or less removed from the signs before mentioned. Posidonius adds, that during the summer solstice and whilst the moon was full, he himself passed many days in the temple of Hercules at Gades, but could not observe any thing of these annual irregularities. However, about the new moon of the same month he observed at Ilipa [Note] a great change in the reflux of the water of the Guadalquiver, as compared with previous flood-tides, in which the water did not rise half as high as the banks, and that then the water poured in so copiously, that the soldiers there dipped their supply without difficulty, although Ilipa is about 700 stadia from the sea. He says, that the plains next the sea were covered by the tides to a distance of 30 [Note] stadia, and to such a depth as to form islands, while the basement of the temple in the enclosure dedicated to Hercules, and the top of the mole in front of the harbour of Gades, were not covered higher than 10 cubits, as observed by actual soundings; but if any one should add the double of that for the occasional risings of the tide which occur, [neither] thus would he be able to estimate the violence with which the full force of the high tide rushes over the plains. Posidonius informs us that this violence [of the tide] is common to all the coasts of Spain on the Atlantic, [Note] but what he

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relates concerning the Ebro is unusual and peculiar to itself, for he says that it sometimes overflows after continued north winds, although there may have been neither rains nor snows. The cause of this [he supposes] to be the lake through which the Ebro flows, its waters being driven by the winds into the current of the river. [Note] 3.5.10

The same writer mentions a tree at Gades, which had boughs reaching to the ground; its sword-shaped leaves often measuring a cubit long, and four fingers broad. Also that about Carthagena there was a tree whose thorns produced a bark from which most beautiful stuffs were woven. As for the tree [he saw] at Gades, we ourselves have observed a similar in Egypt, so far as the inclination of the boughs is concerned, but with a differently shaped leaf, and producing no fruit, which according to him the other did. In Cappadocia there are stuffs made from thorns, but it is not a tree which produces the thorn from which the bark is taken, but a low plant; he also tells us of a tree at Gades, from which if a branch be broken off a milk will flow, and if the root be cut a red fluid runs. Thus much for Gades. 3.5.11

The Cassiterides are ten in number, and lie near each other in the ocean towards the north from the haven of the Artabri. One of them is desert, but the others are inhabited by men in black cloaks, clad in tunics reaching to the feet, girt about the breast, and walking with staves, thus resembling the Furies we see in tragic representations. [Note] They subsist by their cattle, leading for the most part a wandering life. Of the metals they have tin and lead; which with skins they barter with the merchants for earthenware, salt, and brazen vessels. Formerly the Phœnicians alone carried on this traffic from Gades, concealing the passage from every one; and when the Romans followed a certain

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ship-master, that they also might find the market, the shipmaster of jealousy purposely ran his vessel upon a shoal, leading on those who followed him into the same destructive disaster; he himself escaped by means of a fragment of the ship, and received from the state the value of the cargo he had lost. The Romans nevertheless by frequent efforts discovered the passage, and as soon as Publius Crassus, passing over to them, perceived that the metals were dug out at a little depth, and that the men were peaceably disposed, he declared it to those who already wished to traffic in this sea for profit, although the passage was longer than that to Britain. [Note] Thus far concerning Iberia and the adjacent islands.

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The Fourth Book contains a description of the regions about Gaul, Spain, and the Alps on this side, towards Italy. Likewise of Britain, and of certain islands in the ocean which are habitable, together with the country of the barbarians, and the nations dwelling beyond the Danube.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 3.4 Str. 3.5 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 4.1

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