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 Those who write on the science of Geography should trust entirely for the arrangement of the subject they are engaged on to the geometers, who have measured the whole earth; they in their turn to astronomers; and these again to natural philosophers. Now natural philosophy is one of the perfect sciences.1 The ‘perfect sciences’ they define as those which, depending on no external hypothesis, have their origin, and the evidence of their propositions, in themselves. Here are a few of the facts established by natural philosophers.2 The earth and heavens are spheroidal. The tendency of all bodies having weight, is to a centre. Further, the earth being spheroidal, and having the same centre as the heavens, is motionless, as well as the axis which passes through both it and the heavens. The heavens turn round both the earth and its axis, from east to west. The fixed stars turn round with it, at the same rate as the whole.3 These fixed stars follow in their course parallel circles; the principal of which are, the equator, the two tropics, and the arctic circles. While the planets, the sun, and the moon, describe certain oblique circles comprehended within the zodiac. Admitting these points in whole or in part, astronomers proceed to treat of other matters, [such as] the motions [of the stars], their revolutions, eclipses, size, relative distance, and a thousand similar particulars. On their side, geometers, when measuring the size of the entire earth, avail themselves of the data furnished by the natural philosopher and astronomer; and the geographer on his part makes use of those of the geometer.
1 ἡ δὲ φυσικὴ ἀοͅετὴ τις. We learn from the work entitled De Placitis Philosophorum, commonly attributed to Plutarch, that the Stoics dignified with the name of ἀοͅετὴ, the three sciences of Physics, Ethics, and Logic, φυσικὴ, ᾿ηθικὴ, λογικὴ. The exact meaning of ἀοͅετὴ in these instances it is impossible to give, and Strabo's own explanation is perhaps the best that can be had; we have here rendered it, ‘perfect science,’ for want of a better phrase.
3 We have followed the suggestion of Gosselin in reading τῷὅλῳthe whole, instead of τῷ πόλῳ,the pole, as in the text. Strabo having just previously stated that the axis of the earth was stationary, it does not seem probable that he would immediately after speak of the motion of the pole.
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