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Now although such difficulties as these might fairly be raised concerning what is found in the text of Homer about the Mysians and the “proud Hippemolgi,” yet what Apollodorus states in the preface to the Second Book of his work On Ships1 can by no means be asserted; for he approves the declaration of Eratosthenes, that although both Homer and the other early authors knew the Greek places, they were decidedly unacquainted with those that were far away, since they had no experience either in making long journeys by land or in making voyages by sea. And in support of this Apollodorus says that Homer calls Aulis “rocky”2 (and so it is), and Eteonus “place of many ridges,”3 and Thisbe “haunt of doves,”4 and Haliartus “grassy,”5 but, he says, neither Homer nor the others knew the places that were far away. At any rate, he says, although about forty rivers now into the Pontus, Homer mentions not a single one of those that are the most famous, as, for example, the Ister, the Tanaïs, the Borysthenes, the Hypanis, the Phasis, the Thermodon, the Halys;6 and, besides, he does not mention the Scythians, but invents certain “proud Hippemolgi” and “Galactophagi” and “Abii”; and as for the Paphlagonians of the interior, he reports what he has learned from those who have approached the regions afoot, but he is ignorant of the seaboard,7 and naturally so, for at that time this sea was not navigable, and was called Axine8 because of its wintry storms and the ferocity of the tribes that lived around it, and particularly the Scythians, in that they sacrificed strangers, ate their flesh, and used their skulls as drinking-cups; but later it was called “Euxine,”9 when the Ionians founded cities on the seaboard. And, likewise, Homer is also ignorant of the facts about Egypt and Libya, as, for example, about the risings of the Nile and the silting up of the sea,10 things which he nowhere mentions; neither does he mention the isthmus between the Erythraean11 and the Egyptian12 Seas, nor the regions of Arabia and Ethiopia and the ocean, unless one should give heed to Zeno the philosopher when he writes, ““And I came to the Ethiopians and Sidonians and Arabians.”
1314 But this ignorance in Homer's case is not amazing, for those who have lived later than he have been ignorant of many things and have invented marvellous tales: Hesiod, when he speaks of “men who are half-dog,”15 of “long-headed men,” and of “Pygmies”; and Alcman, when he speaks of “web footed men”; and Aeschylus, when he speaks of “dog-headed men,” of “men with eyes in their breasts”, and of “one-eyed men” (in his Prometheus it is said16); and a host of other tales. From these men he proceeds against the historians who speak of the “Rhipaean Mountains,”17 and of “Mt. Ogyium,”18 and of the settlement of the Gorgons and Hesperides, and of the “Land of Meropis”19 in Theopompus,20 and the “City of Cimmeris” in Hecataeus,21 and the “Land of Panchaea”22 in Euhemerus,23 and in Aristotle “the river-stones, which are formed of sand but are melted by the rains.”24 And in Libya, Apollodorus continues, there is a “City of Dionysus” which it is impossible for the same man ever to find twice. He censures also those who speak of the Homeric wanderings of Odysseus as having been in the neighborhood of Sicily; for in that case, says he, one should go on and say that, although the wanderings took place there, the poet, for the sake of mythology, placed them out in Oceanus.25 And, he adds, the writers in general can be pardoned, but Callimachus26 cannot be pardoned at all, because he makes a pretence of being a scholar;27 for he calls Gaudos28 the “Isle of Calypso” and Corcyra “Scheria.” And others he charges with falsifying about “Gerena,”29 and “Aeacesium,”30 and “Demus”31 in Ithaca, and about “Pelethronium”32 in Pelion, and about Glaucopium33 in Athens. To these criticisms Apollodorus adds some petty ones of like sort and then stops, but he borrowed most of them from Eratosthenes, and as I have remarked before34 they are wrong. For while one must concede to Eratosthenes and Apollodorus that the later writers have shown themselves better acquainted with such matters than the men of early times, yet to proceed beyond all moderation as they do, and particularly in the case of Homer, is a thing for which, as it seems to me, one might justly rebuke them and make the reverse statement: that where they are ignorant themselves, there they reproach the poet with ignorance. However, what remains to be said on this subject meets with appropriate mention in my detailed descriptions of the several countries,35 as also in my general description.36

1 Or rather On the Catalogue of Ships (1. 2. 24).

2 Hom. Il. 2.496

3 Hom. Il. 2.497

4 Hom. Il. 2.502

5 Hom. Il. 2.503

6 Now, respectively, the Danube, Don, Dnieper, Bog, Rion, Termeh, and Kizil-Irmak.

7 Cp. 12. 3. 26.

8 That is “Inhospitable.

9 “Hospitable,” euphemistically.

10 Cp. 1. 2. 29.

11 Red.

12 Mediterranean.

13 Hom Od. 4.84

14 Zeno emended the Homeric text to read as above (see 1. 2. 34).

15 Cp. 1. 2. 35.

16 Aeschylus refers to “one-eyed” men in Aesch. PB 804. The other epithets (See Nauck, Fr. 431, 441) were taken from plays now lost.

17 Cp. 7. 3. 1.

18 “Mt. Ogyium” is otherwise unknown. The reading is probably corrupt.

19 Aelian Var. Hist. 3.18 says that Theopompus the historian related a conversation between King Midas and Silenus in which Silenus reported a race called “meropians” who inhabited a continent larger than Asia, Europe, and Africa combined.

20 Theopompus (b. about 380 B.C.) write, among other works, two histories, (1) the Hellenica, in twelve books, being a continuation of Thucydides and covering the period from 411 to 394 B.C., and (2) the Philippica, in fifty-eight books, being a history of the life and times of Philip of Macedon (360-336 BC.). Only a few fragments of these works remain.

21 Hecataeus (b. about 540 B.C.) wrote both a geographical and an historical treatise. Only fragments remain.

22 Cp. 2. 4. 2.

23 Euhemerus (fl. about 310 B.C.) wrote a work on Sacred History (cp. 1. 3. 1).

24 Such words as these have not been found in the extant works of Aristotle.

25 Cp. 1. 2. 17-19.

26 Callimachus of Cyrene (fl. about 250 B.C.) is said to have written about 800 works, in prose and verse. Only 6 hymns, 64 epigrams and some fragments are extant.

27 Cp. 1. 2. 37.

28 See footnote 2 on 1. 2. 37.

29 Cp. 8. 3. 7, 29 and the Odyssey (the “Gerenian” Nestor).

30 Strabo alludes to the wrong interpretation which some put upon ἀκάκητα, the epithet of Hermes (Hom. Il. 16.185), making it refer to a cavern in “Arcadia, called “Acacesium,” near Mt. Cyllene, where Hermes was born. Hesiod (Theog. 614) gives the same epithet to Prometheus, who, according to the scholiast, was so called from “Mt. Acacesium” in Arcadia, where he was much revered.

31 Hom. Il. 3.201 The critics in question maintained that “demus” (“deme,” “people”) was the name of a place in Ithaca.

32 “Pelethronium” is not found in Homer of Hesiod. According to some it was a city of Thessaly; others, a mountain (or a part of Mt. Pelion) in Thessaly; and others, the cave where Cheiron trained Achilles.

33 “Glauconpium” is not found in Homer or Hesiod. According to Eustathius it was applied by the ancients to the citadel of Athens, or to the temple of Athene, and was derived from Athene “Glaucopis” (“Flashing-eyed”); but Stephanus Byzantinus derives the word from Glaucopus, son of Alalcomeneus.

34 1. 2. 24.

35 For example, 12. 3. 26-27.

36 The first and second books, passim.

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