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



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 3.5.4 Str. 3.5.7 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 3.5.9

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