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 Continuing our former sketch, we now state that the earth which we inhabit contains numerous gulfs, formed by the exterior sea or ocean which surrounds it. Of these there are four principal. The northern, called the Caspian, by others designated the Hyrcanian Sea, the Persian and Arabian Gulfs, formed by the [Southern] Sea, the one being nearly opposite to the Caspian, the other to the Euxine; the fourth, which in size is much more considerable than the others, is called the Internal and Our Sea.1 It commences in the west at the Strait of the Pillars of Hercules, and continues in an easterly direction, but with varying breadth. Farther in, it becomes divided, and terminates in two gulfs; that on the left being called the Euxine Sea, while the other consists of the seas of Egypt, Pamphylia, and Issus. All these gulfs formed by the exterior sea, have a narrow entrance; those of the Arabian Gulf, however, and the Pillars of Hercules are smaller than the rest.2 The land which surrounds these, as before remarked, consists of three divisions. Of these, the configuration of Europe is the most irregular. Libya, on the contrary, is the most regular; while Asia holds a middle place between the two. In all of these continents, the regularity or irregularity of form relates merely to the interior coasts; the exterior, with the exception of the gulfs be fore mentioned, is unindented, and, as I have stated, resembles a chlamys in its form; any slight differences being of course overlooked, as in large matters what is insignificant passes for nothing. Since in geographical descriptions we not only aim at portraying the configuration and extent of various places, but also their common boundaries, we will remark here, as we have done before, that the coasts of the Internal Sea3 present a greater variety in their appearance than those of the Exterior [Ocean]; the former is also much better known, its climate is more temperate, and more civilized cities and nations are here than there. We are also anxious to be informed where the form of government, the arts, and whatever else ministers to intelligence, produce the greatest results. Interest will always lead us to where the relations of commerce and society are most easily established, and these are advantages to be found where government is administered, or rather where it is well administered. In each of these particulars, as before remarked, Our Sea4 possesses great advantages, and here therefore we will begin our description.
1 The Mediterranean.
2 The entrance to the Arabian Gulf is about six or seven marine leagues, that of the Mediterranean two and three-fourths. The entrance to the Persian Gulf is seven or eight leagues in extent; while the Caspian, being a lake, has of course no outlet whatever.
4 Strabo here means the countries bordering the Mediterranean.
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