Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 3.5.7 Str. 3.5.9 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 3.5.11

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.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 3.5.7 Str. 3.5.9 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 3.5.11

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