This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 The ocean it is which principally divides the earth into various countries, and moulds its form. It creates bays, seas, straits, isthmuses, peninsulas, and capes; while rivers and mountains serve to the same purpose. It is by these means that continents, nations, and the position of cities are capable of being clearly distinguished, together with those various other details of which a chorographical chart is full. Amongst these latter are the multitude of islands scattered throughout the seas, and along every coast; each of them distinguished by some good or bad quality, by certain advantages or disadvantages, due either to nature or to art. The natural advantages [of a place] should always be mentioned, since they are permanent. Advantages which are adventitious are liable to change, although the majority of those which have continued for any length of time should not be passed over, nor even those which, although but recent, have yet acquired some note and celebrity. For those which continue, come to be regarded by posterity not as works of art, but as the natural advantages of the place; these therefore it is evident we must notice. True it is, that to many a city we may apply the reflection of Demosthenes1 on Olynthus and its neighbouring towns: ‘So completely have they vanished, that no one who should now visit their sites could say that they had ever been inhabited!’ Still we are gratified by visiting these and similar localities, being desirous of beholding the traces of such celebrated places, and the tombs of famous men. In like manner we should record laws and forms of government no longer in existence, since these are serviceable to have in mind, equally with the remembrance of actions, whether for the sake of imitating or avoiding the like.
1 Demosthenes, Philipp. III. edit. Reisk. t. i. p. 117, 1. 22.—Demosthenes is here alluding to the cities which different Grecian colonies had founded in the maritime districts of Thrace. The principal of these was the opulent and populous city of Olynthus, which, together with others, was taken, and razed to its foundations, by Philip of Macedon. Olynthus has become famous through the three orations of Demosthenes, urging the Athenians to its succour.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.