1 IF the scientific investigation of any subject be the proper avocation of the philosopher, Geography, the science of which we propose to treat, is certainly entitled to a high place; and this is evident from many considerations. They who first ventured to handle the matter were distinguished men. Homer, Anaximander the Milesian, and Hecatæus, (his fellow-citizen according to Eratosthenes,) Democritus, Eudoxus, Dicæarchus, Ephorus, with many others, and after these Erastosthenes, Polybius, and Posidonius, all of them philosophers.

Nor is the great learning, through which alone this subject can be approached, possessed by any but a person acquainted with both human and divine things,2 and these attainments constitute what is called philosophy. In addition to its vast importance in regard to social life, and the art of government, Geography unfolds to us the celestial phenomena, acquaints us with the occupants of the land and ocean, and the vegetation, fruits, and peculiarities of the various quarters of the earth, a knowledge of which marks him who cultivates it as a man earnest in the great problem of life and happiness. [2]

Admitting this, let us examine more in detail the points we have advanced.

And first, [we maintain,] that both we and our predecessors, amongst whom is Hipparchus, do justly regard Homer as the founder of geographical science, for he not only excelled all, ancient as well as modern, in the sublimity of his poetry, but also in his experience of social life. Thus it was that he not only exerted himself to become familiar with as many historic facts as possible, and transmit them to posterity, but also with the various regions of the inhabited land and sea, some intimately, others in a more general manner. For otherwise he would not have reached the utmost limits of the earth, traversing it in his imagination. [3]

First, he stated that the earth was entirely encompassed by the ocean, as in truth it is; afterwards he described the countries, specifying some by name, others more generally by various indications, explicitly defining Libya,3 Ethiopia, the Sidonians, and the Erembi (by which latter are probably intended the Troglodyte Arabians); and alluding to those farther east and west as the lands washed by the ocean, for in ocean he believed both the sun and constellations to rise and set.

“ Now from the gently-swelling flood profound
The sun arising, with his earliest rays,
In his ascent to heaven smote on the fields.4

Iliad vii. 421

“And now the radiant sun in ocean sank,
Dragging night after him o'er all the earth.5

Iliad viii. 485
The stars also he describes as bathed in the ocean.6 [4]

He portrays the happiness of the people of the West, and the salubrity of their climate, having no doubt heard of the abundance of Iberia,7 which had attracted the arms of Hercules,8 afterwards of the Phoenicians, who acquired there an extended rule, and finally of the Romans. There the airs of Zephyr breathe, there the poet feigned the fields of Elysium, when he tells us Menelaus was sent thither by the gods:—

“ Thee the gods
Have destined to the blest Elysian isles,
Earth's utmost boundaries. Rhadamanthus there
For ever reigns, and there the human kind
Enjoy the easiest life; no snow is there,
No biting winter, and no drenching shower,
But Zephyr always gently from the sea
Breathes on them, to refresh the happy race.9

Odyssey iv. 563

The Isles of the Blest10 are on the extreme west of Maurusia,11 near where its shore runs parallel to the opposite coast of Spain; and it is clear he considered these regions also Blest, from their contiguity to the Islands. [6]

He tells us also, that the Ethiopians are far removed, and bounded by the ocean: far removed,—

“ The Ethiopians, utmost of mankind,
These eastward situate, those toward the west.12

Odyssey i. 23
Nor was he mistaken in calling them separated into two divisions, as we shall presently show: and next to the ocean,—

“ For to the banks of the Oceanus,
Where Ethiopia holds a feast to Jove,
He journey'd yesterday.13

Iliad i. 423
Speaking of the Bear, he implies that the most northern part of the earth is bounded by the ocean:

“ Only star of these denied
To slake his beams in Ocean's briny baths.14

Iliad xviii. 489; Odyssey v. 275.
Now, by the ‘Bear’ and the ‘Wain,’ he means the Arctic Circle; otherwise he would never have said, ‘It alone is deprived of the baths of the ocean,’ when such an infinity of stars is to be seen continually revolving in that part of the hemisphere. Let no one any longer blame his ignorance for being merely acquainted with one Bear, when there are two. It is probable that the second was not considered a constellation until, on the Phœnicians specially designating it, and employing it in navigation, it became known as one to the Greeks.15 Such is the case with the Hair of Berenice, and Canopus, whose names are but of yesterday; and, as Aratus remarks, there are numbers which have not yet received any designation. Crates, therefore, is mistaken when, endeavouring to amend what is correct, he reads the verse thus: “ οἷος δ᾽ ἄμμορός ἐστι λοετρῶν,

” replacing οἴη by οἶς, with a view to make the adjective agree with the Arctic Circle, which is masculine; instead of the Arctic Constellation, which is feminine. The expression of Heraclitus is far more preferable and Homeric, who thus figuratively describes the Arctic Circle as the Bear,—‘The Bear is the limit of the dawn and of the evening, and from the re- gion of the Bear we have fine weather.’ Now it is not the constellation of the Bear, but the Arctic Circle, which is the limit of the rising and the setting stars.

By the Bear, then, which he elsewhere calls the Wain, and describes as pursuing Orion, Homer means us to under- stand the Arctic Circle; and by the ocean, that horizon into which, and out of which, the stars rise and set. When he says that the Bear turns round and is deprived of the ocean, he was aware that the Arctic Circle [always] extended to the sign opposite the most northern point of the horizon. Adapting the words of the poet to this view, by that part of the earth nearest to the ocean we must understand the horizon, and by the Arctic Circle that which extends to the signs which seem to our senses to touch in succession the most northern point of the horizon. Thus, according to him, this portion of the earth is washed by the ocean. With the nations of the North he was well acquainted, although he does not mention them by name, and indeed at the present day there is no regular title by which they are all distinguished. He informs us of their mode of life, describing them as ‘wanderers,’ ‘noble milkers of mares,’ ‘living on cheese,’ and ‘without wealth.’16 [7]

In the following speech of Juno, he states that the ocean surrounds the earth.

“ For to the green earth's utmost bounds I go,
To visit there the parent of the gods,

Iliad xiv. 200.

Does he not here assert that ocean bounds all its extremities, and does it not surround these extremities? Again, in the Hoplopœia,18 he places the ocean in a circle round the border of Achilles' shield. Another proof of the extent of his knowledge, is his acquaintance with the ebb and flow of the sea, calling it ‘the ebbing ocean.’19 Again,

“ Each day she thrice disgorges, and again
Thrice drinks, insatiate, the deluge down.20

Odyss. xii. 105.
The assertion of thrice, instead of twice, is either an error of the author, or a blunder of the scribe, but the phenomenon is the same, and the expression soft-flowing,21 has reference to the flood-tide, which has a gentle swell, and does not flow with a full rush. Posidonius believes that where Homer describes the rocks as at one time covered with the waves, and at another left bare, and when he compares the ocean to a river, he alludes to the flow of the ocean. The first supposition is correct, but for the second there is no ground; inasmuch as there can be no comparison between the flow, much less the ebb of the sea, and the current of a river. There is more probability in the explanation of Crates, that Homer describes the whole ocean as deep-flowing, ebbing, and also calls it a river, and that he also describes a part of the ocean as a river, and the flow of a river; and that he is speaking of a part, and not the whole, when he thus writes:—

“ When down the smooth Oceanus impell'd
By prosperous gales, my galley, once again,
Cleaving the billows of the spacious deep,
Had reach'd the Ææan isle.22

Odyssey xii. l.
He does not, however, mean the whole, but the flow of the river in the ocean, which forms but a part of the ocean. Crates says, he speaks of an estuary or gulf, extending from the winter tropic towards the south pole.23 Now any one quitting this, might still be in the ocean; but for a person to leave the whole and still to be in the whole, is an impossibility. But Homer says, that leaving the flow of the river, the ship entered on the waves of the sea, which is the same as the ocean. If you take it otherwise you make him say, that departing from the ocean he came to the ocean. But this requires further discussion. [8]

Perception and experience alike inform us, that the earth we inhabit is an island: since wherever men have approached the termination of the land, the sea, which we designate ocean, has been met with: and reason assures us of the similarity of those places which our senses have not been permitted to survey. For in the east24 the land occupied by the Indians, and in the west by the Iberians and Maurusians,25 is wholly encompassed [by water], and so is the greater part on the south26 and north.27 And as to what remains as yet unexplored by us, because navigators, sailing from opposite points, have not hitherto fallen in with each other, it is not much, as any one may see who will compare the distances between those places with which we are already acquainted. Nor is it likely that the Atlantic Ocean is divided into two seas by narrow isthmuses so placed as to prevent circumnavigation: how much more probable that it is confluent and uninterrupted! Those who have returned from an attempt to circumnavigate the earth, do not say they have been prevented from con- tinuing their voyage by any opposing continent, for the sea remained perfectly open, but through want of resolution, and the scarcity of provision. This theory too accords better with the ebb and flow of the ocean, for the phenomenon, both in the increase and diminution, is every where identical, or at all events has but little difference, as if produced by the agitation of one sea, and resulting from one cause. [9]

We must not credit Hipparchus, who combats this opinion, denying that the ocean is every where similarly affected; or that even if it were, it would not follow that the Atlantic flowed in a circle, and thus continually returned into itself. Seleucus, the Babylonian, is his authority for this assertion. For a further investigation of the ocean and its tides we refer to Posidonius and Athenodorus, who have fully discussed this subject: we will now only remark that this view agrees better with the uniformity of the phenomenon; and that the greater the amount of moisture surrounding the earth, the easier would the heavenly bodies be supplied with vapours from thence. [10]

Homer, besides the boundaries of the earth, which he fully describes, was likewise well acquainted with the Mediterranean. Starting from the Pillars,28 this sea is encompassed by Libya, Egypt, and Phoenicia, then by the coasts opposite Cyprus, the Solymi,29 Lycia, and Caria, and then by the shore which stretches between Mycale30 and Troas, and the adjacent islands, every one of which he mentions, as well as those of the Propontis31 and the Euxine, as far as Colchis, and the locality of Jason's expedition. Furthermore, he was acquainted with the Cimmerian Bosphorus,32 having known the Cimmerians,33 and that not merely by name, but as being familiar with themselves. About his time, or a little before, they had ravaged the whole country, from the Bos- phorus to Ionia. Their climate he characterizes as dismal, in the following lines:—

“ With clouds and darkness veil'd, on whom the sun
Deigns not to look with his beam-darting eye,
But sad night canopies the woeful race.34

Odyssey xi. 15 and 19.
He must also have been acquainted with the Ister,35 since he speaks of the Mysians, a Thracian race, dwelling on the banks of the Ister. He knew also the whole Thracian36 coast adjacent thereto, as far as the Peneus,37 for he mentions individually the Pæonians, Athos, the Axius,38 and the neighbouring islands. From hence to Thesprotis39 is the Grecian shore, with the whole of which he was acquainted. He was besides familiar with the whole of Italy, and speaks of Te- mese40 and the Sicilians, as well as the whole of Spain41 and its fertility, as we have said before. If he omits various intermediate places this must be pardoned, for even the compiler of a Geography overlooks numerous details. We must forgive him too for intermingling fabulous narrative with his historical and instructive work. This should not be complained of; nevertheless, what Eratosthenes says is false, that the poets aim at amusement, not instruction, since those who have treated upon the subject most profoundly, regard poesy in the light of a primitive philosophy. But we shall refute Eratosthenes42 more at length, when we have occasion again to speak of Homer. [11]

What we have already advanced is sufficient to prove that poet the father of geography. Those who followed in his track are also well known as great men and true philosophers. The two immediately succeeding Homer, according to Eratosthenes, were Anaximander, the disciple and fellow- citizen of Thales, and Hecatæus the Milesian. Anaximander was the first to publish a geographical chart. Hecatæus left a work [on the same subject], which we can identify as his by means of his other writings. [12]

Many have testified to the amount of knowledge which this subject requires, and Hipparchus, in his Strictures on Eratosthenes, well observes, ‘that no one can become really proficient in geography, either as a private individual or as a professor, without an acquaintance with astronomy, and a knowledge of eclipses. For instance, no one could tell whether Alexandria in Egypt were north or south of Babylon, nor yet the intervening distance, without observing the latitudes.43 Again, the only means we possess of becoming acquainted with the longitudes of different places is afforded by the eclipses of the sun and moon.’ Such are the very words of Hipparchus. [13]

Every one who undertakes to give an accurate description of a place, should be particular to add its astronomical and geometrical relations, explaining carefully its extent, distance, degrees of latitude, and ‘climate.’44 Even a builder before constructing a house, or an architect before laying out a city, would take these things into consideration; much more should he who examines the whole earth: for such things in a peculiar manner belong to him. In small distances a little deviation north or south does not signify, but when it is the whole circle of the earth, the north extends to the furthest confines of Scythia,45 or Keltica,46 and the south to the extremities of Ethiopia: there is a wide difference here. The case is the same should we inhabit India or Spain, one in the east, the other far west, and, as we are aware, the anti- podes47 to each other. [14]

The [motions] of the sun and stars, and the centripetal force meet us on the very threshold of such subjects, and compel us to the study of astronomy, and the observation of such phenomena as each of us may notice; in which too, very considerable differences appear, according to the various points of observation. How could any one undertake to write accurately and with propriety on the differences of the various parts of the earth, who was ignorant of these matters? and although, if the undertaking were of a popular character, it might not be advisable to enter thoroughly into detail, still we should endeavour to include every thing which could be comprehended by the general reader. [15]

He who has thus elevated his mind, will he be satisfied with any thing less than the whole world? If in his anxiety accurately to portray the inhabited earth, he has dared to survey heaven, and make use thereof for purposes of instruction, would it not seem childish were he to refrain from examining the whole earth, of which the inhabited is but a part, its size, its features, and its position in the universe; whether other portions are inhabited besides those on which we dwell, and if so, their amount? What is the extent of the regions not peopled? what their peculiarities, and the cause of their remaining as they are? Thus it appears that the knowledge of geography is connected with meteorology48 and geometry, that it unites the things of earth to the things of heaven, as though they were nearly allied, and not separated.

“ As far as heaven from earth.49

Iliad viii. 16

To the various subjects which it embraces let us add natural history, or the history of the animals, plants, and other different productions of the earth and sea, whether serviceable or useless, and my original statement will, I think, carry perfect conviction with it.

That he who should undertake this work would be a benefactor to mankind, reason and the voice of antiquity agree. The poets feign that they were the wisest heroes who travelled and wandered most in foreign climes: and to be familiar with many countries, and the disposition of the inhabitants, is, according to them, of vast importance. Nestor prides him- self on having associated with the Lapithæ,50 to whom he went, ‘having been invited thither from the Apian51 land afar.’

So does Menelaus:—

“ Cyprus, Phœnicia, Sidon, and the shores
Of Egypt, roaming without hope I reach'd;
In distant Ethiopia thence arrived,
And Libya, where the lambs their foreheads show
With budding horns defended soon as yean'd.52

Odyssey iv. 83.
Adding as a peculiarity of the country,

“ There thrice within the year the flocks produce.53

Odyssey iv. 86.
And of Egypt:—‘Where the sustaining earth is most prolific.’54 And Thebes,

“ the city with an hundred gates,
Whence twenty thousand chariots rush to war.55

Iliad ix. 383, et seq.

Such information greatly enlarges our sphere of knowledge, by informing us of the nature of the country, its botanical and zoological peculiarities. To these should be added its marine history; for we are in a certain sense amphibious, not exclusively connected with the land, but with the sea as well. Hercules, on account of his vast experience and observation, was described as ‘skilled in mighty works.’56

All that we have previously stated is confirmed both by the testimony of antiquity and by reason. One consideration however appears to bear in a peculiar manner on the case in point; viz. the importance of geography in a political view. For the sea and the earth in which we dwell furnish theatres for action; limited, for limited actions; vast, for grander deeds; but that which contains them all, and is the scene of the greatest undertakings, constitutes what we term the habitable earth; and they are the greatest generals who, subduing nations and kingdoms under one sceptre, and one political administration, have acquired dominion over land and sea. It is clear then, that geography is essential to all the transactions of the statesman, informing us, as it does, of the position of the continents, seas, and oceans of the whole habitable earth. Information of especial interest to those who are concerned to know the exact truth of such particulars, and whether the places have been explored or not: for government will certainly be better administered where the size and position of the country, its own peculiarities, and those of the surrounding districts, are understood. Forasmuch as there are many sovereigns who rule in different regions, and some stretch their dominion over others' territories, and undertake the government of different nations and kingdoms, and thus enlarge the extent of their dominion, it is not possible that either themselves, nor yet writers on geography, should be equally acquainted with the whole, but to both there is a great deal more or less known. Indeed, were the whole earth under one government and one administration, it is hardly possible that we should be informed of every locality in an equal degree; for even then we should be most acquainted with the places nearest us: and after all, it is better that we should have a more perfect description of these, since, on account of their proximity, there is greater reed for it. We see there is no reason to be surprised that there should be one chorographer57 for the Indians, another for the Ethiopians, and a third for the Greeks and Romans. What use would it be to the Indians if a geographer should thus describe Bœotia to them, in the words of Homer:—

“ The dwellers on the rocks
Of Aulis follow'd, with the hardy clans
Of Hyria, Schœnus, Scolus.58

Iliad ii. 496.
To us this is of value, while to be acquainted with the Indies and their various territorial divisions would be useless, as it could lead to no advantage, which is the only criterion of the worth of such knowledge. [17]

Even if we descend to the consideration of such trivial matters as hunting, the case is still the same; for he will be most successful in the chase who is acquainted with the size and nature of the wood, and one familiar with the locality will be the most competent to superintend an encampment, an ambush, or a march. But it is in great undertakings that the truth shines out in all its brilliancy, for here, while the success resulting from knowledge is grand, the consequences of ignorance are disastrous. The fleet of Agamemnon, for instance, ravaging Mysia, as if it had been the Trojan territory, was compelled to a shameful retreat. Likewise the Persians and Libyans,59 supposing certain straits to be impassable, were very near falling into great perils, and have left behind them memorials of their ignorance; the former a monument to Salganeus on the Euripus, near Chalcis, whom the Persians slew, for, as they thought, falsely conducting their fleet from the Gulf of Malea60 to the Euripus; and the latter to the memory of Pelorus, who was executed on a like occasion. At the time of the expedition of Xerxes, the coasts of Greece were covered with wrecks, and the emigrations from Æolia and Ionia furnish numerous instances of the same calamity. On the other hand, matters have come to a prosperous termination, when judiciously directed by a knowledge of the locality. Thus it was at the pass of Thermopylæ that Ephialtes is reported to have pointed out to the Persians a pathway over the mountains, and so placed the band of Leonidas at their mercy, and opened to the Barbarians a passage into Pylæ. But passing over ancient occurrences, we think that the late expeditions of the Romans against the Parthians furnish an excellent ex- ample, where, as in those against the Germans and Kelts, the Barbarians, taking advantage of their situation, [carried on the war] in marshes, woods, and pathless deserts, deceiving the ignorant enemy as to the position of different places, and concealing the roads, and the means of obtaining food and necessaries. [18]

As we have said, this science has an especial reference to the occupations and requirements of statesmen, with whom also political and ethical philosophy is mainly concerned; and here is an evidence. We distinguish the different kinds of civil government by the office of their chief men, denominating one government a monarchy, or kingdom, another an aristocracy, a third a democracy; for so many we consider are the forms of government, and we designate them by these names, because from them they derive their primary characteristic. For the laws which emanate from the sovereign, from the aristocracy, and from the people all are different. The law is in fact a type of the form of government. It is on this account that some define right to be the interest of the strongest. If, therefore, political philosophy is advantageous to the ruler, and geography in the actual government of the country, this latter seems to possess some little superiority. This superiority is most observable in real service. [19]

But even the theoretical portion of geography is by no means contemptible. On the one hand, it embraces the arts, mathematics, and natural science; on the other, history and fable. Not that this latter can have any distinct advantage: for instance, if any one should relate to us the wanderings of Ulysses, Menelaus, and Jason, he would not seem to have added directly to our fund of practical knowledge thereby, (which is the only thing men of the world are interested in,) unless he should convey useful examples of what those wanderers were compelled to suffer, and at the same time afford matter of rational amusement to those who interest themselves in the places which gave birth to such fables. Practical men interest themselves in these pursuits, since they are at once commendable, and afford them pleasure; but yet not to any great extent. In this class, too, will be found those whose main object in life is pleasure and respectability: but these by no means constitute the majority of mankind, who naturally prefer that which holds out some direct advantage. The geographer should therefore chiefly devote himself to what is practically important. He should follow the same rule in regard to history and the mathematics, selecting always that which is most useful, most intelligible, and most authentic. [20]

Geometry and astronomy, as we before remarked, seem absolutely indispensable in this science. This, in fact, is evident, that without some such assistance, it would be impossible to be accurately acquainted with the configuration of the earth; its climata,61 dimensions, and the like information.

As the size of the earth has been demonstrated by other writers, we shall here take for granted and receive as accurate what they have advanced. We shall also assume that the earth is spheroidal, that its surface is likewise spheroidal, and above all, that bodies have a tendency towards its centre, which latter point is clear to the perception of the most average understanding. However we may show summarily that the earth is spheroidal, from the consideration that all things however distant tend to its centre, and that every body is attracted towards its centre of gravity; this is more distinctly proved from observations of the sea and sky, for here the evidence of the senses, and common observation, is alone requisite. The convexity of the sea is a further proof of this to those who have sailed; for they cannot perceive lights at a distance when placed at the same level as their eyes, but if raised on high, they at once become perceptible to vision, though at the same time further removed. So, when the eye is raised, it sees what before was utterly imperceptible. Homer speaks of this when he says,

“ Lifted up on the vast wave he quickly beheld afar.62

Odyssey v. 393.
Sailors, as they approach their destination, behold the shore continually raising itself to their view; and objects which had at first seemed low, begin to elevate themselves. Our gnomons, also, are, among other things, evidence of the revolution of the heavenly bodies; and common sense at once shows us, that if the depth of the earth were infinite,63 such a revolution could not take place.

Every information respecting the climata64 is contained in the ‘Treatises on Positions.’65 [21]

Now there are some facts which we take to be established, viz. those with which every politician and general should be familiar. For on no account should they be so uninformed as to the heavens and the position of the earth,66 that when they are in strange countries, where some of the heavenly phenomena wear a different aspect to what they have been accustomed, they should be in a consternation, and exclaim,

“ Neither west
Know we, nor east, where rises or where sets
The all-enlightening sun.67

Odyssey x. 190.
Still, we do not expect that they should be such thorough masters of the subject as to know what stars rise and set together for the different quarters of the earth; those which have the same meridian line, the elevation of the poles, the signs which are in the zenith, with all the various phenomena which differ as well in appearance as reality with the variations of the horizon and arctic circle. With some of these matters, unless as philosophical pursuits, they should not burden themselves at all; others they must take for granted without searching into their causes. This must be left to the care of the philosopher; the statesman can have no leisure, or very little, for such pursuits. Those who, through carelessness and ignorance, are not familiar with the globe and the circles traced upon it, some parallel to each other, some at right angles to the former, others, again, in an oblique direction; nor yet with the position of the tropics, equator, and zodiac, (that circle through which the sun travels in his course, and by which we reckon the changes of season and the winds,) such persons we caution against the perusal of our work. For if a man is neither properly acquainted with these things, nor with the variations of the horizon and arctic circle, and such similar elements of mathematics, how can he comprehend the matters treated of here? So for one who does not know a right line from a curve, nor yet a circle, nor a plane or spherical surface, nor the seven stars in the firmament composing the Great Bear, and such like, our work is entirely useless, at least for the present. Unless he first acquires such information, he is utterly incompetent to the study of geography. * So those who have written the works entitled ‘On Ports,’ and ‘Voyages Round the World,’ have performed their task imperfectly, since they have omitted to supply the requisite information from mathematics and astronomy.*68 [22]

The present undertaking is composed in a lucid style, suitable alike to the statesman and the general reader, after the fashion of my History.69 By a statesman we do not intend an illiterate person, but one who has gone through the course of a liberal and philosophical education. For a man who has bestowed no attention on virtue or intelligence, nor what constitutes them, must be incompetent either to blame or praise, still less to decide what actions are worthy to be placed on record. [23]

Having already compiled our Historical Memoirs, which, as we conceive, are a valuable addition both to political and moral philosophy, we have now determined to follow it up with the present work, which has been prepared on the same system as the former, and for the same class of readers, but more particularly for those who are in high stations of life. And as our former production contains only the most striking events in the lives of distinguished men, omitting trifling and unimportant incidents; so here it will be proper to dismiss small and doubtful particulars, and merely call attention to great and remarkable transactions, such in fact as are use- fill, memorable, and entertaining. In the colossal works of the sculptor we do not descend into a minute examination of particulars, but look principally for perfection in the general ensemble. This is the only method of criticism applicable to the present work. Its proportions, so to speak, are colossal; it deals in the generalities and main outlines of things, except now and then, when some minor detail can be selected, calculated to be serviceable to the seeker after knowledge, or the man of business.

We now think we have demonstrated that our present undertaking is one that requires great care, and is well worthy of a philosopher.

1 The chapters and sectional divisions of Kramer's edition of the Greek text have been generally followed in this translation.

2 τὰ θεία καὶ ἀνθρώπεια, ‘the productions of nature and art.’

3 Africa.

4 Then indeed the sun freshly struck the fields [with its rays], ascending heaven from the calmly-flowing, deep-moving ocean. Iliad vii. 421; Odyssey xix. 433. These references relate to the Greek text; any one wishing to verify the poetic translation will find the place in Cowper, by adding a few lines to the number adapted to the Greek. The prose version is taken from Bohn's edition.

5 And the bright light of the sun fell into the ocean, drawing dark night over tile fruitful earth. Iliad viii. 485

Bright and steady as the star
Autumnal, which in ocean newly bathed,
Assumes fresh beauty.

Iliad v. 6

6 Iliad v.6.

7 Gosselin remarks that in his opinion Strabo frequently attributes to Homer much information of which the great poet was entirely ignorant. the present is an instance, for Spain was to Homer a perfect terra in- cognita.

8 The Phœnician Hercules, anterior to the Grecian hero by two or three centuries. The date of his expedition, supposing it to have actually occurred, was about sixteen or seventeen hundred years before the Christian era.

9 But the immortals will send you to the Elysian plain, and the boundaries of the Earth, where is auburn-haired Rhadamanthus; there of a truth is the most easy life for men. There is nor snow, nor long winter, nor even a shower, but every day the ocean sends forth the gently blowing breezes of the west wind to refresh men." Odyssey iv. 563.

10 The Isles of the Blest are the same as the Fortunate Isles of other geographers. It is clear from Strabo's description that he alludes to the Canary Islands; but as it is certain that Homer had never heard of these, it is probable that the passages adduced by Strabo have reference to the Elysian Fields of Baïa in Campania.

11 The Maurusia of the Greeks (the Mauritania of the Latins) is now known as Algiers and Fez in Africa.

12 The Ethiopians, who are divided into two divisions, the most distant of men. Odyssey i. 23.

13 For yesterday Jove went to Oceanus, to the blameless Ethiopians, to a banquet. Iliad i. 423.The ancients gave the name of Ethiopians, generally, to the inhabitants of Interior Africa, the people who occupied the sea-coast of the Atlantic, and the shores of the Arabian Gulf. It is with this view of the name that Strabo explains the passage of Homer; but the Mediterranean was the boundary of the poet's geographical knowledge; and the people he speaks of were doubtless the inhabitants of the southern parts of Phoenicia, who at one time were called Ethiopians. We may here remark too, that Homer's ocean frequently means the Mediterranean, sometimes probably the Nile. See also p. 48, n. 2.

14 But it alone is free from the baths of the ocean. Iliad xviii. 489; Odyssey v. 275.

15 We are informed by Diogenes Laertius, that Thales was the first to make known to the Greeks the constellation of the Lesser Bear. Now this philosopher flourished 600 years before the Christian era, and consequently some centuries after Homer's death. The name of φοινίκη which it received from the Greeks, is proof that Thales owed his knowledge of it to the Phœnicians. Conf. Humboldt's Cosmos, vol. iii. p. 160, Bohn's edition.

16 Iliad xiii. 5. Gosselin says, Thrace (the present Roumelia) was in- disputably the most northern nation known to Homer. He names the people ιππημόλγοι, or living on mares' milk, because in his time they were a pomade race. Strabo evidently gives a forced meaning to the words of the poet, when he attempts to prove his acquaintance with the Scythians and Sarmatians.

17 For I go to visit the limits of the fertile earth, and Oceanus, the parent of the gods. Iliad xiv. 200.

18 The eighteenth book of the Iliad.

19 Iliad xviii. 399; Odyss. xx. 65.

20 Thrice indeed each day it lets loose its waves, and thrice it ebbs them back. Odyss. xii. 105. Gosselin remarks, ‘I do not find any thing in these different passages of Homer to warrant the conclusion that he was aware of the ebb and flow of the tide; every one knows that the movement is hardly perceptible in the Mediterranean. In the Euripus, which divides the Isle of Negropont from Bœotia, the waters are observed to flow in opposite directions several times a day. It was from this that Homer probably drew his ideas; and the regular current of the Hellespont, which carries the waters of the Black Sea into the Mediterranean, led him to think that the whole ocean, or Mediterranean, had one continued flow like the current of a river.’

21 Iliad vii. 422.

22 But when the ship left the stream of the river-ocean, and entered on the wave of the wide-wayed sea. Odyssey xii. l.

23 This direction would indicate a gulf, the seaward side of which should be opposite the Libo-notus of the ancients. Now the mutilated passage of Crates has reference to the opening of the twelfth book of the Odyssey, descriptive of Ulysses' departure from Cimmeria, after his visit to the infernal regions. Those Cimmerians were the people who inhabited Campania, and the land round Baïa, near to lake Avernus, and the entrance into Hades. As these places are situated close to the bay of Naples, which occupies the exact position described by Crates, it is probable this was the bay he intended.

24 What Strabo calls the eastern side of the continent, comprises that portion of India between Cape Comorin and Tana-serim, to the west of the kingdom of Siam: further than which he was not acquainted.

25 Strabo's acquaintance with Western Africa did not go further than Cape Nun, 214 leagues distant from the Strait of Gibraltar.

26 By the south is intended the whole land from the Arabian Gulf or Red Sea to Cape Comorin.

27 From Cape Finisterre to the mouth of the Elbe.

28 The rocks of Gibraltar and Ceuta.

29 The mountaineers of the Taurus, between Lycia and Pisidia.

30 A mountain of Ionia near to the Meander, and opposite the Isle of Samos.

31 The Sea of Marmora.

32 The Strait of Caffa, which connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azof.

33 The Cimmerians, spoken of in Homer, were undoubtedly the in- habitants of Campania, not those of the Bosphrus.

34 They are covered with shadows and darkness, nor does the shining sun behold them with his beams,............ but pernicious night is spread over hapless mortals. Odyssey xi. 15 and 19.

35 The Danube.

36 Ancient Thrace consisted of the modern provinces of Bulgaria and Roumelia.

37 A river of Thessaly, named at present Salampria.

38 Now the river Vardari.

39 Thesprotis, in Epirus, opposite Corfu.

40 Afterwards named Temsa. This town was in Citerior Calabria. Some think Torre de Nocera stands on the ancient site.

41 This is a misstatement, as before remarked.

42 This writer occupies so prominent a position in Strabo's work, that no apology I think will be needed for the following extract from Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. "Eratosthenes of Cyrene was, according to Suidas, the son of Aglaus, according to others, the son of Ambrosius, and was born B. C. 276. He was taught by Ariston of Chius, the philosopher, Lysanias of Cyrene, the grammarian, and Callimachus, the poet. He left Athens at the invitation of Ptolemy Euergetes, who placed him over the library at Alexandria. Here he continued till the reign of Ptolemy Epiphanes. He died at the age of eighty, about B. C. 196, of voluntary starvation, having lost his sight, and being tired of life. He was a man of very extensive learning: we shall first speak of him as a geometer and astronomer.

"It is supposed that Eratosthenes suggested to Ptolemy Euergetes the construction of the large armillœ, or fixed circular instruments, which were long in use at Alexandria; but only because it is difficult to imagine to whom else they are to be assigned, for Ptolemy the astronomer, though he mentions them, and incidentally their antiquity, does not state to whom they were due. In these circles each degree was divided into six parts. We know of no observations of Eratosthenes in which they were probably employed, except those which led him to the obliquity of the ecliptic, which he must have made to be 23° 51′ 20″; for he states the distance of the tropics to be eleven times the eighty-third part of the circumference. This was a good observation for the times. Ptolemy the astronomer was content with it, and according to him Hipparchus used no other. Of his measure of the earth we shall presently speak. According to Nicomachus, he was the inventor of the κόσκινον, or Cribrum Arithmeticum, as it has since been called, being the well-known method of detecting the prime numbers by writing down all odd numbers which do not end with 5, and striking out successively the multiples of each, one after the other, so that only prime numbers remain.

"We still possess under the name of Eratosthenes a work, entitled κατασεοͅισμοί, giving a slight account of the constellations, their fabulous history, and the stars in them. It is however acknowledged on all hands that this is not a work of Eratosthenes. * * * The only other writing of Eratosthenes which remains, is a letter to Ptolemy on the duplication of the cube, for the mechanical performance of which he had contrived an instrument, of which he seems to contemplate actual use in measuring the contents of vessels, &c. He seems to say that he has had his method engraved in some temple or public building, with some verses, which he adds. Eutocius has preserved this letter in his comment on book ii. prop. 2, of the sphere and cylinder of Archimedes.

"The greatest work of Eratosthenes, and that which must always make his name conspicuous in scientific history, is the attempt which he made to measure the magnitude of the earth, in which he brought forward and used the method which is employed to this day. Whether or no he was successful cannot be told, as we shall see; but it is not the less true that he was the originator of the process by which we now know, very nearly indeed, the magnitude of our own planet. Delambre says that if it were he who advised the erection of the circular instruments above alluded to, he must be considered as the founder of astronomy: to which it may be added, that he was the founder of geodesy without any if in the case. The number of ancient writers who have alluded to this remarkable operation (which seems to have obtained its full measure of fame) is very great, and we shall not attempt to combine their remarks or surmises: it is enough to say that the most distinct account, and one of the earliest, is found in the remaining work of Cleomedes.

"At Syene in Upper Egypt, which is supposed to be the same as, or near to, the town of Assouan, (Lat. 24° 10′ N., Long. 32° 59′ E. of Greenwich,) Eratosthenes was told (that he observed is very doubtful) that deep wells were enlightened to the bottom on the day of the summer solstice, and that vertical objects cast no shadows. He concluded therefore, that Syene was on the tropic, and its latitude equal to the obliquity of the ecliptic, which, as we have seen, he had determined: he presumed that it was in the same longitude as Alexandria, in which he was out about 3°, which is not enough to produce what would at that time have been a sensible error. By observations made at Alexandria, he determined the zenith of that place to be distant by the fiftieth part of the circumference from the solstice, which was equivalent to saying that the arc of the meridian between the two places is 7° 12′. Cleomedes says that he used the σκάφη, or hemispherical dial of Berosus, in the determination of this latitude. Delambre rejects the idea with infinite scorn, and pronounces Cleomedes unworthy of credit; and indeed it is not easy to see why Eratosthenes should have rejected the gnomon and the large circular instruments, unless, perhaps, for the following reason. There is a sentiment of Cleomedes which seems to imply that the disappearance of the shadows at Syene on the day of the summer solstice was noticed to take place for 300 stadia every way round Syene. If Eratosthenes took his report about the phenomenon (and we have no evidence that he went to Syene himself) from those who could give no better account than this, we may easily understand why he would think the σκάφη quite accurate enough to observe with at his own end of the arc, since the other end of it was uncertain by as much as 300 stadia. He gives 500 stadia for the distance from Alexandria to Syene, and this round number seems further to justify us in concluding that he thought the process to be as rough as in truth it was. Martianus Capella states that he obtained this distance from the measures made by order of the Ptolemies (which had been commenced by Alexander): this writer then implies that Eratosthenes did not go to Syene himself.

‘The result is 250,000 stadia for the circumference of the earth, which Eratosthenes altered into 252,000, that his result might give an exact number of stadia for the degree, namely, 700; this of course should have been 694 4/9. Pliny calls this 31,500 Roman miles, and therefore supposes the stadium to be the eighth part of a Roman mile, or takes for granted that Eratosthenes used the Olympic stadium. It is likely enough that the Ptolemies naturalized this stadium in Egypt; but nevertheless, it is not unlikely that an Egyptian stadium was employed. If we assume the Olympic stadium, (202 1/4 yards,) the degree of Eratosthenes is more than 79 miles, upwards of 10 miles too great. Nothing is known of any Egyptian stadium. Pliny asserts that Hipparchus, but for what reason he does not say, wanted to add 25,000 stadia to the circumference as found by Eratosthenes. According to Plutarch, Eratosthenes made the sun to be 804 millions of stadia from the earth, and the moon 780,000. According to Macrobius, he made the diameter of the sun to be 27 times that of the earth. With regard to the other merits of Eratosthenes, we must first of all mention what he did for geography, which was closely connected with his mathematical pursuits. It was Eratosthenes who raised geography to the rank of a science; for previous to his time it seems to have consisted, more or less, of a mass of in- formation scattered in books of travel, descriptions of particular countries, and the like. All these treasures were accessible to Eratosthenes in the libraries of Alexandria; and he made the most profitable use of them, by collecting the scattered materials, and uniting them into an organic system of geography, in his comprehensive work entitled γεωγοͅαφικά, or as it is sometimes but erroneously called, γεωγοͅούμενα or γεωγοͅαφία. It consisted of three books, the first of which, forming a sort of Introduction, contained a critical review of the labours of his predecessors from the earliest to his own times, and investigations concerning the form and nature of the earth, which, according to him, was an immoveable globe, on the surface of which traces of a series of great revolutions were still visible. He conceived that in one of these revolutions the Mediterranean had acquired its present form; for according to him it was at one time a large lake covering portions of the adjacent countries of Asia and Libya, until a passage was forced open by which it entered into communication with the ocean in the west. The second book contained what is now called mathematical geography. His attempt to measure the magnitude of the earth has been spoken of above. The third book contained the political geography, and gave descriptions of the various countries, derived from the works of earlier travellers and geographers. In order to be able to determine the accurate site of each place, he drew a line parallel with the equator, running from the Pillars of Hercules to the extreme east of Asia, and dividing the whole of the inhabited earth into two halves. Connected with this work was a new map of the earth, in which towns, mountains, rivers, lakes, and climates were marked according to his own improved measurements. This important work of Eratosthenes forms an epoch in the history of ancient geography: but unfortunately it is lost, and all that has survived consists in fragments quoted by later geographers and historians, such as Polybius, Strabo, Marcianus, Pliny, and others, who often judge of him unfavourably, and controvert his statements; while it can be proved that in a great many passages they adopt his opinions without mentioning his name. Marcianus charges Eratosthenes with having copied the substance of the work of Timosthenes on Ports, (περὶ λιμένων,) to which he added but very little of his own. This charge may be well-founded, but cannot have diminished the value of the work of Eratosthenes, in which that of Timosthenes can have formed only a very small portion. It seems to have been the very overwhelming importance of the geography of Eratosthenes, that called forth a number of opponents, among whom we meet with the names of Polemon, Hipparchus, Polybius, Serapion, and Marcianus of Heracleia. * * * Another work of a somewhat similar nature, entitled ῾εεμῆς, was written in verse, and treated of the form of the earth, its temperature, the different zones, the constellations, and the like. * * * Eratosthenes distinguished himself also as a philosopher, historian, grammarian, &c.’

43 The ancients portioned out the globe by bands or zones parallel to the equator, which they named κλίματα. The extent of each zone was determined by the length of the solstitial day, and thus each diminished in extent according as it became more distant from the equator. The moderns have substituted a mode of reckoning the degrees by the elevation of the pole, which gives the latitudes with much greater accuracy.

44 Literally, the heat, cold, and temperature of the atmosphere.

45 Tartary.

46 France.

47 Xylander and Casaubon remark that Strabo here makes an improper use of the term antipodes; the antipodes of Spain and India being in the southern hemisphere.

48 Meteorology, from μετεώρος, aloft, is the science which describes and explains the various phenomena which occur in the region of the atmosphere.

49 Homer, Iliad viii. 16

50 A people of Thessaly, on the banks of the Peneus.

51 The former name of the Morea, and more ancient than Peloponnesus. Iliad i. 270.

52 Having wandered to Cyprus, and Phœnice, and the Egyptians, I came to the Ethiopians, and Sidonians, and Erembi, and Libya, where the lambs immediately become horned. Odyssey iv. 83.

53 Odyssey iv. 86.

54 Homer says,

“ ———τν̂ͅπλεῖστα φἐοͅει ζείδωοͅος ἄοͅουοͅα

Odyssey iv. 229.
Which Cowper properly renders:— “ Egypt teems
With drugs of various powers.

” Strabo, by omitting the word φαοͅμακα from his citation, alters to a certain degree the meaning of the sentence.

55 Iliad ix. 383, et seq.

56 Odyssey xxi. 26.

57 Chorography, a term used by Greek writers, meaning the description of particular districts.

58 Iliad ii. 496. Four cities of Bœotia. The present name of Aulis is Vathi, situated on the Strait of Negropont The modern names of the other three cities are unknown.

59 By Libyans are here intended Carthaginians. The events alluded to by Strabo may be found in Pomponius Mela and Valerius Maximus, whose accounts however do not entirely accord. That of Valerius Maximus, who is followed by Servius, tells us that Hannibal, on his return to Africa, observed his pilot Pelorus was taking the ships by the coast of Italy, and suspecting him therefore of treachery, caused him to be executed. He did not know at the time the intention of Pelorus to take him through the Strait of Messina, but afterwards, when aware of the excellence of the passage, caused a monument to be raised to the memory of the unfortunate pilot. Strabo, in his ninth book, gives us the history of Salganeus, and the monument erected to him on the shores of Negropont.

60 The Gulf of Zeitun.

61 Vide preceding note on this word, p. 13, n. 1.

62 Odyssey v. 393.

63 Allusion is here made to the theory of Xenophanes of Colophon and Anaximenes his disciple, who imagined the earth bore the form of a vast mountain, inhabited at the summit, but whose roots stretched into infinity. The Siamese at the present day hold a similar idea.

64 See note1, p. 13.

65 πεοͅὶ τῶν οἰκήσεων.

66 Meaning, the different appearances of the heavenly bodies at various parts of the earth.

67 Odyssey x. 190.

68 This sentence has been restored to what was evidently its original position. In the Greek text it appears immediately before section 23, commencing, ‘Having already compiled,’ &c. The alteration is borne out by the French and German translators.

69 Strabo here alludes to his ῾ιστορικὰ ῾υπομνήματα, cited by Plutarch (Lucullus, 28, Sulla, 26). This work, in forty-three books, began where the History of Polybius ended, and was probably continued to the battle of Actium. Smith, Gr. and Rom. Biog.

Creative Commons License
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.

load focus Greek (1877)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
276 BC (1)
196 BC (1)
hide References (4 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: