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There, however, are some instances in which one may justly accuse Eratosthenes. There is a difference in dissecting limb by limb, or merely cutting off portions [indiscriminately], (for in the former you may only separate parts having a natural outline, and distinguished by a regular form; this the poet alludes to in the expression,

“ Cutting them limb from limb;1

Odyssey ix. 291; Iliad xxiv. 409
whereas in regard to the latter this is not the case,) and we may adopt with propriety either one or other of these plans according to the time and necessity. So in Geography, if you enter into every detail, you may sometimes be compelled to divide your territories into portions, so to speak, but it is a more preferable way to separate them into limbs, than into such chance pieces; for thus only you can define accurately particular points and boundaries, a thing so necessary to the geographer. When it can be done, the best way to define a country is by the rivers, mountains, or sea; also, where possible, by the nation or nations [who inhabit it], and by its size and configuration. However, in default of a geometrical definition, a simple and general description may be said always to answer the purpose. In regard to size, it is sufficient to state the greatest length and breadth; for example, that the habit- able earth is 70,000 stadia long, and that its breadth is scarcely half its length.2 And as to form, to compare a country to any geometrical or other well-known figure. For example, Sicily to a triangle, Spain to an ox-hide, or the Peloponnesus to a plane-leaf.3 The larger the territory to be divided, the more general also ought its divisions to be.

1 Odyssey ix. 291; Iliad xxiv. 409

2 Strabo estimated the length of the continent at 70,000 stadia from Cape St. Vincent to Cape Comorin, and 29,300 stadia as its breadth.

3 The ancient geographers often speak of these kind of resemblances. They have compared the whole habitable earth to a soldier's cloak or mantle, as also the town of Alexandria, which they styled χλαμυδοειδές. Italy at one time to a leaf of parsley, at another to an oak-leaf. Sardinia to a human foot-print. The isle of Naxos to a vine-leaf. Cyprus to a sheep-skin; and the Black Sea to a Scythian bow, bent. The earliest coins of Peloponnesus, struck about 750 years before the Christian era, bear the impress of a tortoise, because that animal abounded on the shores, and the divisions and height of its shell were thought to offer some likeness to the territorial divisions of the little states of Peloponnesus and the mountain-ridges which run through the middle of that country. The Sicilians took for their symbol three thighs and legs, arranged in such an order that the bended knees might resemble the three capes of that island and its triangular form.

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