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HISPA´NIA (Ἱσπανία, Σπανία), and IBE´RIA (Ἰβερία, Eth. Σπαν́ος), Eth. Hispani, Eth. Hispaniensis, and, with reference to its division into two parts, very frequently Hispaniae (so also Ἰβηρίαι, Steph. B. sub voce the ancient names of the great peninsula now divided into the countries of Spain and Portugal. In this article, for convenience, the whole peninsula will be often called simply SPAIN.


As in the case of other countries, which only became known to the Greeks and Romans by portions, there was at first no general name for the whole peninsula. Polybius states that the part of the land on the Mediterranean, as far as the Pillars of Hercules, was called IBERIA (Ἰβηρία), while the portion onwards from that point along the ocean had no general name, as it had not long been known, and was entirely occupied by numerous barbarian peoples. (Plb. 3.37).

1. Name in general use among the Greeks: Iberia.

The name in general use among the Greeks, during the historical period, was IBERIA which was understood to be derived from the river IBERUS (Plin. Nat. 3.3. s. 4; Justin,. 44.1; Steph. B. sub voce Avien. Or. Mar. 248): whence it was applied to the surrounding country, first vaguely, as will presently appear, and afterwards more exactly, as they gradually became acquainted with those physical features which so strikingly define its limits. (Hecat. Fr. 11--13; Hdt. 1.163, 7.165; Scyl. pp. 1, 2; Strab. iii. p.166; Eustath. ad Dion. Per. 281; Hor. Carm. 4.528. (comp. below on the boundaries.)

2. Hispania

The other and still more familiar name, HISPANIA (Ἱσπανία, Strab. iii. p.166; Agathem. 1.2), came into use after the Romans began to have a direct connection with the country; and has remained the prevailing appellative ever since. There is little doubt that the genuine form of the name is SPAN or SAPAN, the vowel sound being prefixed for easier pronunciation, as is common in southern as well as eastern languages when an initial s is followed by another consonant (of this usage examples may be seen in the Arabic and Turkish names of Greek cities): and the name is used without the prefix (Σπανία: Artemidor. ap. Steph. B. sub voce Ἰβηρίαι; Plut. de Flum. p. 32, Huds., vol. x. p. 774, Reiske; Paul. Epist. ad Rom. 15.28, &c.) The origin of the name is not known with any certainty, nor whether it was used by the inhabitants themselves. Bochart derives it from the Phoenician and Hebrew word HEBREW (tsapan), which means a rabbit; and arguments are adduced in favour of this etymology from the numerous testimonies of the ancients to the abundance of these animals in the country (Strab. iii. pp. 144, 168: Aelian, Ael. NA 13.15; Varro, R. R. 3.12.; Catull. 35.18; Plin. Nat. 8.58. s. 83, 11.37. s. 76), as well as from a medal of Hadrian, on the reverse of which is seen a female figure, as the personification of Spain, with a rabbit at her feet. (Florez, Med. de Esp. vol. i. p. 109.) Others explain the Phoenician word to mean concealed, that is, the country little known; but this seems to be a mere fancy. (Maltebrun, Précis de la Géogr. vol. viii. p. 21.) On the other hand, W. von Humboldt, in his invaluable essay on the primitive history of Spain, maintains that it was a native name, and that its genuine form, vowel prefix and all, is preserved almost unaltered in the modern native name España, which he derives from the Basque Ezpaña, a border, margin, or edge, denoting that the peninsula was the margin of Europe towards the ocean. (Humboldt, Prüfung der Untersuch. über die Urbewohner Hispaniens, Berlin, 1821; comp. on the etymology of both names, Plut. de Flum. l.c.; Solin. 23; Ammian. Marc. 23.6; Const. Porph. de Admin. Imp. 2.23; Eustath. ad Dion. Per. 282; Bochart, Chan. 1.35, Phaleg, 3.7; Oberlin, ad Vib. Seq. p. 397; Grot. ad Mart. Cap. p. 201; Wesseling, ad Itin. p. 268; Tzschucke, ad Mel. 2.6.)

3. Hesperia

HESPERIA was an old Greek name, chiefly used by the poets, in connection with the notion that the world consisted of four parts, of which LIBYA was the southern, ASIA the eastern, EUROPA the northern, and HESPERIA the western: and, according to this idea, Spain was the westernmost part of Hesperia. (Niebuhr, Lectures on Ancient Ethnography and Geography, vol. ii. p. 279.) Hence the country is sometimes called simply Hesperia (Macrob. 1.3; Serv. ad Verg. A. 1.530; Isid. Orig. 14.4), and sometimes, in contradistinction to Italy, Hesperia Ultima (Hor. Carm. 1.36. 4; comp. Diefenbach, Celtica 3.32).

4. Celtica

CELTICA ( Κελτική) was also a general name for the West of Europe, and was used specifically for the interior of Spain, which was originally peopled, or believed to have been peopled, by Celts. (Aristot. de Mundo, vol. i. p. 850, Du Val.; Scymn. 173.) Ephorus (ap. Strab. iv. p.199; Marc. ad loc. p. 142) extended Celtica to Gades, and applied the name of Iberia only to the W. part of the peninsula. So too Eratosthenes (ap. Strab. ii. p.107) extended the Galatae (i. e. Celts) to Gadeira. This usage is, however, uncommon, the name being generally confined to those parts of the peninsula in which fragments of the old Celtic population held their ground. [CELTAE: CELTICA.]

5. Tartessis

TARTESSIS was a name applied to the S. portion of the peninsula, and especially to the part beyond the Straits, in contradistinction to the name [p. 1.1075]Iberia, in its narrower sense, that is, the maritime district from the Straits to the Pyrenees. (Polyb. loc. sup. cit): but this is a subject which needs a separate discussion underits properhead. [TARTESSUS]

6. Ethnic and Adjective Forms.

(1.) From IBERIA: Eth. Ἴβηρ, gen. Ἴβηρος, pl. οἱ Ἴβηρες, fes. Ἰβηρίς; Lat. Iber, Lucan 6.255, Hor. Carm. 2.20. 20, pl. Iberes, Catull. 9.6, also Hiber, Hiberes; and Iberi or Hiberi, Verg. G. 3.408, fem. Iberina, Juv. 6.53: Adj. Ἰβηρικός whence Ἰβηρική for the country itself; fem. Ἰβηρίας,--ιάδος; Lat. Iberus, Ibericus, and rarely Iberiacus (Sil. Ital. 13.510). (2.) Connected with HISPANIA: Eth. and Adj. Ἱσπανοί, Const. Porph. de Admin. Imp. 2.23; Zonar. iii. p. 406; Hispānus, Hispani, Adv. Hispane; also Spanus, Schol. Juv. 14.279; Ampelius 6; and Spanicus, Geogr. Ray. iv. sub fin.; Adj. Hispaniensis (the distinction between this and the ethnic being nicely drawn in the following examples: Vell. 2.51, Balbus Cornelius non Hispaniensis natus, sed Hispanus, that is, not merely belonging to Spain, like, for example, a Roman born in Spain, but a true Spaniard, and Mart. xii. Praef.: Ne Romam, si ita decreveris, non Hispaniensem librum mittamus, sed Hispanum), and rarely Hispanicus. (Suet. Aug. 82, Vitr. 7.3.


The west of Europe was to the early Greeks a land of fancy as well as mystery. Vague reports had reached them, probably through the Phoenicians, from which they at first learnt little more than the bare existence of lands, so far distant from their own country as to reach the region of the setting sun and the banks of the all-encompassing river Ocean. According to the very natural tendency which led them to place the happiest regions and the choicest productions of the earth at its extreme parts, confirmed perhaps by exaggerated accounts of the fertility and beauty which some of these regions (Andalucia, for instance) actually enjoy, they fancied them as happy plains or as enchanted islands, and peopled them with the divine nymphs, Circe and Calypso, who there detained in sweet bondage the hero whom fate had cast upon their shores, with the happy spirits of departed heroes, with the primitive and pastoral Cyclopes, and the wealthy maritime Phoenicians, or with the exiled dynasty of gods,
Who with Saturn old,
Fled over Adria to the Hesperian fields,
Or oer the Celtic roamed the utmost isles.

These poetic fancies were succeeded by historical inquiries, and then came all the difficulties of reconciling meagre and conflicting testimonies with the poets and with each other; mistakes arising from first assigning positions vaguely and variously and then, instead of the discovery of such errors the attempt to reconcile them by supposed migrations and other arbitrary devices: so that such names as BEBREYCES, CHALYBES, CIMMERII, and IBERES scarcely seem associated with any exact locality, and are freely transferred backwards and forwards between the shores of the Atlantic and those of the Euxine. To this was added the polemical spirit, which we find so rampant among the old geographic crisis (as among the African and Arctic critics now), which “by decision more, embroiled the fray;” while all the time the later poets were adding to the confusion by imitating the legends of the ancients, and inventing others of their own. Amidst all these elements of uncertainty it is no wonder that we generally find no sure basis of information concerning the more distant countries of the world until the arms of Rome had cleared the way for the inquiries of the learned Greek.

But yet the neglect of this period would deprive the science of ancient geography of a great portion of its interest, and of its use, too, in throwing light on the progress of our race. And in no case is this period more attractive than in that of the remotest country towards the West, one which is invested with the double interest of having been familiar to the Phoenicians, as a principal scene of their commerce and colonisation, while the Greeks were still making it a favourite theatre for tile creations of their fancy.

1. Mythical Period

Of the purely Mythical Period little is to be said, and that little more properly belongs to other articles. [CIMMERII, OCEANUS; FORTUNATAE INSULAE; SULAE; HESPERIDES, AEAEA; HERCULIS COLUMNAE &c.; and the articles GERYON, HERCULES, &c. in the Dictionary of Greek and ]Roman Mythology and Biography.]

2. Semi-Mythical Period of Hesiod and the Lyric Poets,

Advancing to the Semi-Mythical Period of Hesiod and the Lyric Poets, we begin to meet with names which have at least the appearance of a specific geographical significance, though still most uncertain as to their position; such as TARTESSUS In connection with the legends of the Hyperboreans, the Rhipaean mountains appear as a great range intersecting Europe from W. to E. The ISTER and ERIDANUS were known by name to Hesiod (Hes. Th. 338, 339) as rivers of W. Europe; and his island Erytheia: the abode of Geryon, is so described as to prepare the way for its subsequent identification with GADES

3. Logographers and Tragic Poets,

The transition to the period of more real, though still most imperfect knowledge, marked by the age of the Logographers and Tragic Poets, is extreme extremely gradual, for while the avowed writers of fiction are seen to invest their scenes with only an appearance of fact, the investigators of facts are found recording under that guise the strangest fictions. But yet there is no doubt that both give us what is meant to be objective knowledge; and no reader of the Prometheus, for example, can doubt that Aeschylus expends all the resources of his geographical knowledge, be they less or more, on his description of the wanderings of 10. Indeed, with reference to our present subject, we have now reached a period when the maritime enterprise of the Phoecaeans had placed the Greeks in direct connection with the shores of the W. part of the Mediterranean; and had made them acquainted with Tyrrhenia, Iberia, and Tartessus. (Hdt. 1.163.) Accordingly we find the logographer Pherecydes and the poet Stesichorus not only acquainted with the name TARTESSUS; but the latter making it a river, in such a manner as to suggest its identification with the Guadalquivir [BAETIS], while the former accurately represents it as a city on the straits which divide Libya from Europe [TARTESSUS]. Stesichorus mentions also the island of Erytheia, and an island Sarpedonia in the Atlantic, (Strab. iii. p.148; Schol. Apollon. 1.211.) Pindar seems well acquainted with the Pillars of Hercules, as the limit of the known world [HERCULIS COLUMNARE] and Aeschylus, besides some other interesting allusions, too doubtful, however, to be discussed here, seeks for the sources of the Ister in the Rhipaean mountains, a fact of which the importance will be more clearlyseen when the views of Herodotus have been discussed. (Schol. Apollon. 4.28; Ukert, vol. ii. pt. 1. pp. 238--243.) [p. 1.1076]

4. Hecataeus

From these fragmentary notices we pass on to the first writer who gives us a systematic account of any portion of the country,--namely HECATAEUS of Miletus (about B.C. 500); for we have no remains of the earlier work of Charon of Lampsacus, which contained a Periplus of the coast outside of the Pillars of Hercules. (Eudoc, Violar. p. 435.) The Greeks of this period seem to have been acquainted with the S. coast so far as to know the names of a number of places along it, but not so as to form any accurate idea of it as a whole. From the few extant fragments of Hecataeus, and from the passages in which Festus Avienus follows his authority, Ukert deduces the following results:--West of the Straits, which he makes scarcely 7 stadia in width, dwelt the TARTESSII (Avien. Or. Mar. 70), among whom was the town of ELIBYRGE (Steph. B. sub voce Ἐλιβυργή), which no other ancient writer names, but which the moderns have sought to identify, on account of the resemblance in the names only, with ILLIBERIS or ILLITURGIS East of the Pillars dwelt the MASTIANI with the capital, MASTIA; a people and city long after mentioned also by Polybius (3.24): they had also the cities of Syalis [SUEL], Mainobora [MAENOBA], Sixos [SAXETANUM], Molybdana, and Calathe (Steph. B. sub voce s. vv.). Further to the E. the country began to be called Iberia, and was inhabited by numerous peoples; among whom were the Ilaraugatae, on a river of the same name (Steph. B. sub voce Ἰλαραυγαταί), who seem to be the Ilurgetae or ILERGETAE of later writers; and the Misgetes (Steph. B. sub voce Μίσγητες). Among the cities of Iberia are mentioned Crabasia and Hyops, with a river Lesyros near the latter. (Steph. B. sub voce Ὑόψ). Hecataeus also mentions the town of Sicane (Steph. B. sub voce Σικάνη), a name of much interest, as showing the existence of Sicanians in Spain, which is also asserted by Thucydides, who makes them dwell upon a river Sicanus, next the Ligyes who expelled them thence to Sicily. (Thuc. 6.2; Strab. iii. p.270; SICANI) Two islands, Cromyusa and Melussa, are mentioned by Hecataeus as belonging to Iberia. (Steph. B, s. vv.


Herodotus touches on the W. of Europe only incidentally, as but very distantly related to his main subject. In one passage, when speaking of the extreme regions of the earth, he plainly states that he has nothing certain to say of the western parts of Europe: and he even doubts the existence of the river Eridanus and the islands Cassiterides (3.115); and elsewhere he mentions the belief of the Persians that there were no countries of any great importance W. of Greece (7.8). His views may be summed up as follows:--Beyond the Pillars of Hercules lay Gadeira, and near it the island of Erytheia (4.8). Elsewhere he mentions the CYNESII or CYNETES as the westernmost people of Europe (2.33; 4.49); and next to them the great nation of the Celtae, whose country is remarkable for its precious metals, and for the long life of the inhabitants (1.163; 4.49, 152, 192: comp. Strab. iii. pp. 150, 151; Lucian, Macrob. 10; Phlegon. de Longaev. 4; Cic. de Senect. 19; Plin. Nat. 7.48; Val. Max.8.13). Among the Celtae were the sources of the river ISTER in the neighbourhood of a city called PYRENE. (Hdt. 2.33; 4.49.) It is important to remember that this statement respecting the source of the Ister is connected with a theory entertained by Herodotus,--that the two great rivers of Libya and Europe, the Nile and the Ister, followed courses right through the respective continents, from W. to E., almost exactly parallel and equal to each other: the intro. duction of the name Pyrene is discussed in its proper place. [PYRENAEI MONTES] The name of Iberia is mentioned by him twice. The one passage is that already cited respecting the discoveries of the Phocaeans, where the relation in which it stands to Tyrrhenia suggests that it signifies the peninsula of Spain, so far as it was known by maritime discovery (1.163). In the other passage he mentions the Iberians in the army of Hamilcar in Sicily; and he connects them with the Ligyes in such a manner as to suggest the inference, that the name was applied to the whole Mediterranean coast, from the Straits to the Gulf of Lyon (7.165). In the former of these passages, again, he mentions TARTESUS in close connection with Iberia, and describes the Phocaeans as holding most friendly intercourse with Arganthonius, the king of the Tartesii (1.163); and he speaks elsewhere of the wealth and commercial importance of Tartesus [TARTESSUS]. These several views seem to have had little more connection in the mind of the historian than the passages referring to them have in his works; but, on comparing them with the actual facts, and having regard to his probable sources of information, something like a whole may be made out. On the S. coast, his knowledge, derived from Phoenician and Phocaean sources, seems to have extended as far as the SW. point of the peninsula, the SACRUM PROMONTORIUM (Cape St. Vincent), which long remained the westernmost limit of ancient maritime discovery; if, at least, his Chynetes are the CONII of other writers--that is, the inhabitants of the southern projection of Portugal, called CUNEUS Justin (44.43) mentions Cunetes in the mountains of the Tartessii; a confirmation of the hint given under CONII that the name is truly ethnic, and that its resemblance to the Roman cuneus, which so well describes the name of the district, is merely an accidental coincidence. Next, the great colony of GADES was a subject of which he would hear much from the Phoenicians; and separate accounts respecting Tartessus and the surrounding country would be obtained from the same people, who had long traded to it under the name of Tarshish, and from the Phocaeans, as we have seen. The name Iberia seems to have been derived exclusively from the Phocaeans. Lastly, apart from these results of maritime discovery, he had obtained from the Phocaeans and other sources the impression that the great Celtic race overspread pretty well the whole interior of Western Europe; a region, however, of which he possessed scarcely one detail of accurate knowledge.

6. Historians, geographers of the century after Herodotus

The historians, geographers of the century after Herodotus had obtained a larger amount of materials, but without a corresponding improvement in the accuracy of their knowledge. The wide extent of the Celtic name, and the confusion between Celts and Iberians, are found still prevalent; and the courses of the great rivers of W. Europe are very imperfectly known. Thus, EUDOXUS of Cnidus (about B.C. 380--360), of whose geographical work Aristotle made great use, mentions the mountain Pyrene in Celtica, towards the W. extremity of the equinoctial line (πρὸς δυσμὴν ἰσημερινήν), as containing the sources of the rivers Ister and Tartessus, of which the latter flowed outside of the Pillars, and the former through all Europe. (Aristot. Meteor. 1.13.) He places Iberia S. of Celtica, and describes its shores towards the ocean as high and rocky, with promontories running far out into the sea. (Strab. [p. 1.1077]iii. p. 153.) About the same time, EPHORUS, who devoted the 4th book of his work on geography to the W. of Europe, assigns a vast extent of country to the Celts, and carries them on the W. as far as Gades; while he confines the name of Iberia to the region W. of Gades, and, if we are to believe Josephus, even fell into the error of making Iberia a city with a comparatively small territory. He relates some absurd fables about these regions. (Strab. iii. p.153, iv. p. 199, vii. p. 302; Joseph. c. Apion. 1.12; Marx, ad Ephor. Frag. p. 142.) The Periplus of SCYLAX which also belongs to about the same period, is very vague as to the shores of Spain. He makes special mention of the commercial settlements of the Carthaginians outside the Pillars, and of the tides and shoals which characterise that sea: a great sandbank stretches across from the Sacred Promontory (C. S. Vincent) to the promontory of Hermaeum in Lybia. The Iberians are the first people in Europe; and there is the river Iber, and two islands called Gadeira [GADES]; and then comes the Greek city EMPORIUM. Probably there is here a gap in the text; for he passes over the whole coast from the Pillars to the Pyrenees, the voyage along which, he says, occupies 7 days and nights. (Scylax, pp. 1, 51, ed. Hudson, pp. 1--3, 123, ed. Gronov.) Next to the Iberians, he places the Ligurians (Λίγυες) and the “mixed Iberians” (Ἴβηρες μιγάδες) as far as the Rhone.

In the Pseudo-Aristotelian work de Mirab. Auscult. (86), the peoples of Western Europe are mentioned in the following order, from W. to E.: Iberes, Celtoligyes, Celtae, as far as Italy. HERODORUS tells us that the Iberians, who dwell on the shores of the Straits, though belonging to one race, have various names, according to their several tribes. (Fr. ap. Const. Porphyr. de Admin. Imp. 2.23.) Those most to the W. are called CYNSETES (Steph. B. sub voce Κυνητικόν); N. of them are the GLETES (Steph. B. sub voce Γλῆτες; comp. Strab. iii. p.166, who says that the country E. of the Iberus was formerly called after the IGLETES a great and powerful nation, who dwelt in it); then the TARTESSII; then the ELBYSINII; then the MASTIANI and the CALPIANI, as far as the Rhone. (This enumeration, and the order of it, might be made to throw much light on the names and positions of the Spanish peoples, if the argument were not somewhat too speculative for this article).

We likewise find a vast amount of error and confusion among the geographers of this age respecting the distances and bearings of the shores of the W. Mediterranean. Eudoxus states that a person sailing through the Straits into the Inner Sea has immediately on his left hand the Sardoan, Galatian (Gallic), and Adriatic Sea, on the right the bay of the Syrtes (Arist. de Mund. 3); and Dicaearchus estimates the distance from the Sicilian Strait (Straits of Messina) to the Pillars of Hercules (Straits of Gibraltar) at only 7000 stadia. (Strab. ii. p.105.)

7. Age of Alexander and the Ptolemies.

The reign of Alexander the Great forms an epoch in the geography of W. Europe. While his followers were adding by their own direct observations to the knowledge of the extreme East, we are told that from the opposite end of the known world his fame attracted the envoys of numerous nations, and among the rest from the Celts and the Iberians, whose dress was then for the first time seen, and their language first heard, by the Greeks and Macedonians. (Arrian, Arr. Anab. 7.15.) From these and other sources, the learned men of Alexandria, under the Ptolemies, obtained the information which is recorded in the works of ERATOSTHIENES, his contemporaries, and his followers. It appears that Eratosthenes was indebted for much of his knowledge to Timosthenes, the admiral of Ptolemy Philadelphus, and the author of a large geographical work; but the views of. both on the W. of Europe in general, and on Iberia in particular, are severely criticised by Strabo and Marcian. (Strab. ii. pp. 92--94.)

Eratosthenes describes 3 peninsulas as running out S. from the mainland of Europe; the one that which ends with the Peloponnesus, the second the Italian, and the third the Ligurian (Λιγυστικήν); and these contain between them the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian gulfs. (Strab. vii. p.92.) In another passage, the westernmost of these 3 peninsulas is described as that which extends to the Pillars, and to which Iberia belongs. (Strab. ii. p.108.) Of this peninsula he assigns a large part to the Celts (Γαλαταί), whom he makes to reach as far as Gadeira. (Strab. ii. pp. 107, 108.) He places the Columns of Hercules on the Straits [HERCULIS COLUMNAE], to the W. of which he represents the peninsula as running out into several large promontories. Of these, the first is the Sacred Promontory (C. S. Vincent), which he placed at the greatly exaggerated distance of 5 days' voyage from Gades. (Strab. ii. p.148.) The other chief promontory is that of CALBIUM, about which dwelt the OSTIDAMNII; and opposite to it lay several islands, of which UXISAMA, the furthest to the W., was distant 3. days' voyage from Calbium: in this part of his description he follows Pytheas. (Strab. i. p.64.) The region adjacent to Calpe he calls Tartessis, and places there the “happy island” of Erytheia. Besides GADES he mentions the town of TARRACO (Tarragona), and adds that it has a good roadstead, a statement contradicted by Artemidorus and Strabo. (Strab. iii. p.159.) He makes the Pyrenees the E. boundary. [PYRENAEI.] In general, his knowledge seems not to have extended beyond the coast.

8. extent of Iberia, as understood by the Greek geographers.

We are now brought down to the time of the First Punic War, and to the eve of the period when the imperfect. and often merely speculative, notions of the Greeks respecting Spain were superseded by the direct information which the Romans gained by their military operations in the country. But before passing on to the Roman period, a few words are: necessary on the extent of Iberia, as understood by the Greek geographers.

While, as we have already seen, many of them gave the greater part of the peninsula to the Celts, and confined the Iberians either to the part W. of the Straits, or to the Mediterranean shore; others extend the name of Iberia as far E. as the Rhone, and even as far N.E. as the Rhine, and so as to include the peoples on both sides of the Alps. Thus Aeschylus, if we are to believe Pliny, took the Eridanus to be another name for the Rhodanus, which he placed in Iberia. (Plin. Nat. 37.2. s. 11.) Nonnus applies the epithet Iberian to the Rhine. (Dionys. xxiii. p. 397, xliii. p. 747.) Plutarch. places Iberian tribes in the Alps. (Marcell. 3.) In fine, Strabo sums up these opinions as follows:--“The name of Iberia, as used by the earlier writers,, includes all the country beyond the Rhone and the Isthmus which is confined between the Gallic Gulfs (i. e. the Bay of Biscay, and the Gulf of Lyon): but those of the present age assign M. Pyrene as its; boundary, and called it indifferently Iberia and Hispania [p. 1.1078][whereas by those of old the name of Iberia] was applied only to the part within the Iberus.” (Strab. iii. p.166; the words within brackets are supplied as the most probable restoration of a gap in the text.)

It must be observed that such statements as these express something more than a confusion in the minds of the Greek writers between the territories of the Celts and of the Iberians: they express the fact in ethnography, that the Iberian race extended beyond the boundaries of Spain as defined by the Pyrenees, and that they were to a great extent intermixed with the Celts in W. Europe. (See below, on the earliest inhabitants of Spain: No. VII.)


1. Down to the End of the First Punic War.

The internal state of the peninsula, down to the period at which we have now arrived, will be spoken of below; but, in order to estimate the knowledge of the country possessed by the Romans, we must first glance at its relations to the other great power of the Mediterranean. From the earliest known period of antiquity the Phoenicians had held commercial intercourse with Spain; and there is more than a probability that Tyre had established a sort of dominion over the part adjacent to the S. coast, the TARSHISH of Scripture, and the TARTESSIS of the Greeks. (Isaiah, 23.10, where the prophet compares the liberty of Tarshish, consequent on the fall of Tyre, to the free course of a river,--such, for example, as her own Guadalquivir,--when a mighty obstacle is removed.) The phrase “ships of Tarshish” appears to have been as familiar in the mercantile marine of Tyre as “Indiamen” in our own (2 Chron. 9.21, 20.36, 37: Ps. 48.7; Is. lx. 9; Ezek. 27.25); and the products of the Spanish mines, “silver, iron, tin, and lead,” are mentioned by Ezekiel as among “the multitude of all kind of riches, by reason of which Tarshish was her merchant.” (Ezek. 27.12.) Phoenician settlements were numerous on the S. coast of the peninsula, within the Straits, and beyond them there was the great commercial colony of GADES the emporium for the traffic of Tyre with the shores of the Atlantic. But this was not all. From the very physical nature of the country, it was scarcely possible that the Phoenicians should have abstained from extending their power up the navigable stream of the BAETIS of which Gades may be regarded as the port, over the fertile plains of Baetica (Andalucia), as far N. as the Sierra Morena, which at once contained the mineral wealth in quest of which they came, and formed a barrier against the natives of the centre. Be this as it may, we know for certain that in the narrower tract between the sea-shore and the Sierra Nevada [ILIPULA] the people were a mixed race of Iberian and Phoenician blood, called Μιζοφοίνικες (Strab. iii. p.149: BASTULI). The power which the Carthaginians obtained during this period over the natives cannot be positively defined; but they received many of them into their armies by voluntary enlistment.

2. The Viceroyalty of the House of Barca.

Such were the relations of Spain to Carthage; and as to Rome, she had had as yet nothing to do with the peninsula, when the First Punic War was brought to an end, B.C. 241. Carthage seemed to have expended all her resources in the vain effort to secure Sicily; and, when the revolt of her African mercenaries gave Rome an opportunity of filching away from her her oldest provinces, Sardinia and Corsica (B.C. 236), the contest might well be thought to have concluded. “I believe,” says Niebuhr, “that there were fellows at Carthage, such as Hanno, who, partly from envy of Hamilcar, and partly from their own stupidity, would not or could not see that, after the loss of Sicily and Sardinia, there were yet other quarters from which the republic might derive great benefits. When, after the American War, it was thought that the ignominious peace of Paris had put an end to the greatness of England, Pitt undertook with double courage the restoration of his country, and displayed his extraordinary powers. It was in the same spirit that Hamilcar acted: he turned his eyes to Spain: . . . . he formed the plan of making Spain a province, which should compensate for the loss of Sicily and Sardinia. The latter island was then and is still very unhealthy, and its interior was almost inaccessible. Sicily had an effeminate and unwarlike population, and, rich as it was, it might indeed have increased the maritime power of Carthage, but it would not have given her any additional military strength. The weakness of Carthage consisted in her having no armies; and it was a grand conception of Hamilcar's to transform Spain into a Carthaginian country, from which national armies might be obtained. His object, therefore, was, on the one hand, to subdue the Spaniards, and on the other to win their sympathy, and to change them into a Punic nation under the dominion of Carthage. (Plb. 2.1; Diod. Fr. Lib. xxv.; Eclog. ii. p. 510.) The conduct of the Romans towards their subjects was haughty, and always made them feel that they were despised. The highly refined Greeks, who were themselves wont to look with contempt on all foreigners, must have felt that haughtiness very keenly. The Spaniards and Celts were of course less respected. Common soldiers in the Roman armies not unfrequently, especially in the times of the emperors, married native women of the countries in which they were stationed. Such marriages were regarded as concubinage, and from them sprang a class of men who were very dangerous to the Romans. The Carthaginians acted more wisely, by making no restrictions in regard to such marriages. Hannibal himself married a Spanish woman of Castulo (Liv. 24.41: comp. Diod. Fr. Lib. xxv.; Eclog. ii. p. 510, foll.), and the practice must have been very common among the Carthaginians. This was an excellent way to gain the good will of the natives. The whole of the southern coast of Spain had resources of no ordinary kind; it furnished all the productions of Sicily and Sardinia, and in addition to them it had very rich silver mines, the working of which has been revived in our own days. Hamilcar was the first who introduced there a regular and systematic mode of mining, and this led him, or his son-in-law, to build the town of New Carthage (Carthagena). While the Carthaginians thus gained the sympathy of the nation, they acquired a population of millions which relieved them from the necessity of hiring faithless mercenaries, as they had been obliged to do in the First Punic War; they were enabled to raise armies in Spain just as if it had been their own country. The Romans no doubt observed these proceedings with feelings of jealousy, but could not prevent them, as long as the Cisalpine Gauls stood on their frontiers, ready to avenge the defeats of the Senones and Boians.” (Niebuhr, Lectures on Roman History, [p. 1.1079]vol. ii. p. 69.) It was in the year B.C. 237 that Hamilcar commenced this mighty work, not without an ultimate design, unless He is grossly misrepresented by Polybius and Livy, of founding for his house an empire in Spain, in case the Anti-Barcine faction, should prevail at Carthage. [CARTHAGO NOVA] For eight years he carried on his plan with great success, and he appears to have extended the Carthaginian empire as far N. as the Sierra Morena, so that it included the whole of Andalucia, and pretty well all Murcia. On his death, B.C. 229, he left his power and his schemes as an inheritance to Hasdrubal, his son-in-law, who carried on the plan for nearly nine years, till he was cut off by an assassin, B.C. 221, and left its fulfilment to the mighty genius of Hannibal. Meanwhile the Romans, occupied with the war in Cisalpine Gaul, had no power to interfere. Just, however, before that war began, they had done the best they could by making a separate treaty, not with Carthage, but with Hasdrubal himself (as a sort of supplement to the existing treaty with Carthage), by which the river Iberus (Ebro) was fixed as a limit beyond which the Carthaginians were not to extend their conquests (as Polybius states), or (according to Livy) as the boundary between the two states, B.C. 228. (Plb. 3.27; Liv. 21.2; 34.13). That the latter expression, even if used in the treaty (which seems from Polybius to be more than doubtful) does not imply that the Roman arms had actually extended to the Iberus, is shown by Livy himself in the second passage quoted, where he says that Spain was then in the hands of the Carthaginians, held by their generals and armies, while Rome had not a single general nor any soldiers in the country. The previous treaty itself, made at the close of the First Punic War, had provided that the allies of each state should be safe from molestation by the other; and now, if we are to believe Livy (Polybius being silent on the point), an express stipulation to the same effect was introduced on behalf of Saguntum, a city lying within the portion assigned to the Carthaginians, but in alliance with the Romans. [SAGUNTUM] The dispute upon this question, and its bearing upon the rights of the two parties in the Second Punic War, are of little consequence here, except as throwing light on the connection of the Romans with the peninsula. Thus much is certain, that Saguntum was in alliance with Rome when Hannibal laid siege to it, and it is also probable that the Romans' had some footing in TARRACO

3. The Second Punic War.

When Hannibal, on his march to Italy, had effected the passage of the Rhone, and turned the flank of Scipio, B.C. 218, the bold resolution, by which that general sent the bulk of his army into Spain under his brother Cneius, to oppose Hasdrubal, while it perhaps determined, however remotely, the issue of the war, began a struggle, first with the Carthaginians, and then with the Spaniards' themselves, which lasted almost 200 years, and only ended with the subjugation of the northern mountaineers, the CANTABRI and ASTURES by Augustus, B.C. 25. It is needless to dwell on those details, which are familiar to every reader as a part of the Second Punic War: the successes of Cn. and P. Scipio, and their unfortunate end, B.C. 218--212; the almost romantic expedition of young P. Scipio, 211, his capture of New Carthage, 210 [CARTHAGO NOVA], and the final expulsion of the Carthaginians from Spain B.C. 206, which was followed by its erection into a Roman province. From this time the Romans had to deal with the natives, a people always willing to make use of foreigners against each other, but never ready to yield them obedience.

4. Conquest of the country by the Romans.

Neither the dominion of Hannibal, nor that acquired by the Romans in the Second Punic War, extended over so much as one half of the peninsula. The part which they had entirely subdued, seems to have comprehended Catalonia, Valencia, Murcia. and Andalucia, or the country between the sea and the great chain which runs parallel to the E. coast, and on the S. the country between the Sierra Morena and the sea. The province (its division will be spoken of presently) was governed by praetors; there being sometimes one, and sometimes two; and two legions were kept stationary in Spain. This arrangement, besides its effects on the Roman constitution, with which we are not here concerned, had a most important influence on Spain. “The legions remained there for a number of years, married Spanish women, and became estranged from Italy. When, therefore, such legions were disbanded, many soldiers would remain in Spain, unwilling to return to a country to which they had become strangers.” (Niebuhr, Lectures on Roman History, vol. ii. p. 208.)

The central tribes, forming the great Celtiberian nation, retained their own government, which seems to have been of a republican form, in nominal alliance with the Romans, to whom the independent tribes of the N. and W. were as yet scarcely known by name. (Liv. 23.21, 29.3; Flor. 2.17.) The Roman settlements were continually exposed to the attacks which the natives, as provocation was given or opportunity offered, made upon them from their strongholds in the mountains. (Liv. 28.4.) To abate the evil Cato the Elder, when consul, undertook an expedition against the Celtiberians and some smaller tribes, whom he induced, by a stratagem, to demolish the defences of their towns, and so to place themselves in his power, which, it must be added, he used with such justice and moderation as to win their hearts, B.C. 184. (Appian, App. Hisp. 41; Liv. 34.17; Plutarch, Cat. 10; Flor. 2.17.) Indeed, as Niebuhr has more than once observed in his Lectures, the wars of Rome in Spain give constant illustrations of that point which (like most others) is still conspicuous in the national character, their great susceptibility of personal influence, which often proved a corrective to their bitter jealousy of foreigners. “It is indeed surprising” (he says, vol. ii. p. 209) “to see how a Roman general with humane feelings was always able to win the affections and confidence of those tribes [in central Spain], and to establish the authority of Rome for a time, until fresh acts of injustice provoked their resentment.” Of this we have another striking example in the success of Tib. Sempronius Gracchus, the father of the celebrated brothers, who concluded a fierce war, in which the Romans had been for some time engaged with the Celtiberians, by an honourable peace, which at once secured the Roman supremacy and won the hearts of the natives. By this peace the Roman power became established in Catalonia, Valencia, Arragon, and the E. part of Castile, and the tribes who were parties to it bound themselves to build no more towns, B.C. 179. (Polyb. ap Strab. iii. pp. 111, 170; Liv. 40.49, et seq., 41.3; Appian, [p. 1.1080]Hisp. 43; Flor. l.c. CELTIBERI.) From this time it becomes difficult, from the paucity of materials, to give a consecutive account of the progress of the Roman arms; nor would the details be very interesting. The war seems to have been more or less constant, in the valleys of the Tagus and the Durius, with various tribes, among which the most conspicuous are the VACCAEI and the LUSITANI; what was gained by the skill and wisdom of one general being generally put to hazard by the cupidity and oppressions of another. On the whole it seems probable that, before the epoch of the Macedonian War (B.C. 171), the domination of Rome had been extended over the whole peninsula, except the mountainous regions of the north, and the mountain fastnesses of the centre. In B.C. 153, some new provocation, the exact nature of which is obscure [CELTIBERIA], drove the Celtiberians into open revolt, and the consul Q. Fulvius Nobilior made an unsuccessful campaign against them. (Liv. Epit. lib. xlvii; Appian, App. Hisp. 44-47.) The consul of the next year, the celebrated M. Claudius Marcellus, concluded an armistice with them on very fair terms, and turned his arms against the Lusitanians. But his moderation was alike distasteful to the Senate, who demanded an unconditional submission, and to his successor in the consulship, L. Licinius Lucullus (B.C. 151), who renewed the war with much cruelty and avarice, but with little success, against a part of the Celtiberians; but he gained some advantages against the VACCAEI and CANTABRI, and other peoples as yet unknown to the Romans. (Plb. 35.3, 4; Liv. Epit. xlviii; Appian, App. Hisp. 51-55.) After the war had lasted for four years, B.C. 153--149 (a period which is therefore sometimes called “the First Celtiberian War,” to distinguish it from the war of NUMANTIA which was, in fact, but its continuation), it appears to have been suspended, partly because the attention of Rome was now occupied with the Third Punic War (B.C. 149), but still more on account of the more serious occupation which the cruelty and treachery of Lucullus and the praetor Galba had made for the two armies of Spain in the great war against the Lusitanians and Viriathus, which was only finished by the consul D. Junius Brutus, in B.C. 138. [LUSITANIA] Brutus, remaining in his province of Further Spain as proconsul, devoted the next year to the completion of the conquest of Lusitania, and then marched across the river Durius (Douro) into the country of the Callaici Bracarii, into which no Roman army had ever before penetrated, and advanced as far as the Minius (Minho), though his conquests can hardly have been permanent. [GALLAECIA]

Meanwhile the state of affairs in the other province, Hither Spain, had become critical; and the Celtiberians, long known as the bravest and most noble-minded of the Spaniards, were engaged in that final struggle which was only quelled by the skill and the stern resolution of the younger Scipio Africanus. In B.C. 143 Q. Caecilius Metellus Macedonicus had entered his province of Hither Spain with the resolution to confirm, by its final conquest, the fame he had already acquired in Macedonia; and he gained great successes against the Celtiberians. (Liv. Epit. liii.; V. Max. 9.3.7, 7.4.5, 3.2.21; Appian, App. Hisp. 76; Eutrop. 4.16.) The reverses of his successor Q. Pompeins, the varied fortunes of the war, and its conclusion by Scipio, belong to the history of NUMANTIA whose fall and destruction established the Roman dominion in Central Spain, B.C. 133; and left nothing to be done except the subjection of the CANTABRI and ASTURES which was effected by Augustus in B.C. 25. (See the articles: the Wars of Sertorius and those of Caesar belong to the internal history of Rome; and only deserve notice here on account of their effect in still further consolidating the Roman power in the peninsula.)

The Romans had thus been long quietly established in the south and east; and in the centre the constant presence of Roman armies, and the settlements of Roman veterans, had necessarily exerted a great influence on the language and manners of the natives, besides infusing into the population no small share of Roman blood. And, during the whole period of two centuries, no other foreign influence had been brought to bear upon the people: we hear only of one invasion by barbarians, that of the CIMBRI who, after their great victory over Manlius and Caepio (B.C. 105), turned off into Spain, which they ravaged in the most fearful manner for the greater part of two years (B.C. 104,103), until the desperate resistance of the Celtiberians induced them to give up the hope of a permanent conquest, and to retire from the peninsula. (Niebuhr, Lect. on Rom. Hist. vol. ii. p. 330.)

Under Augustus the Romanising process was carried on by the foundation of many and very considerable colonies, as, for example, CAESAR AUGUSTA (Zaragoza), EMERITA AUGUSTA (Merida), PAX JULIA (Beja), PAX AUGUSTA (Badajoz), LEGIO VII. GEMINA (Leon), and others. These cities were adorned with some of the finest productions of Roman architecture, of many of which magnificent ruins still remain.

The system of internal communication also, which had been commenced as early as B.C. 124 (Plb. 3.39; Freinsheim, Suppl. Liv. 61.72), and further developed by Pompey's military roads over the Pyrenees (Sallust, Frag. Hist. iii. p. 820, Cort.), was made tolerably complete by Augustus. Thus the peninsula, with all its natural advantages, was laid open to travellers and settlers, who flocked over the Pyrenees to all quarters of the land; so that, by the time of Strabo, the Turdetani in the S., and the people about the Baetis in general, had been entirely converted to Roman manners (τελέως εἰς τὸν Ῥωμαίων μεταβέβληνται τρόπον), and they had even forgotten their own language. Most of them had obtained the civitas Latina, and had received Roman settlers; so that little was wanting of their being all Romans. The Iberians who were in this condition were called Togati; and among these were included even the Celtiberians, who had been regarded as the wildest (θηριωδέστατοι) of all (Strab. iii. p.151); that is, of all the tribes in the S. and centre of the peninsula, for of them only is Strabo here speaking. The tribes of the northern mountains long after retained those fierce rugged manners which led Juvenal to write (Sat. 8.119) “Horrida vitanda est Hispania.”

Having thus become more thoroughly Roman than any other province out of Italy, Spain furnished many names distinguished in the history and literature of Rome, such as the poet Lucan, the two Senecas, Columella, Pomponius Mela, Quintilian, Martial, and many others.


1. The two provinces of Hither and Further Spain.

The provincial constitution dates from [p. 1.1081]the year after the expulsion of the Carthaginians, B.C. 205; and at the same time the division of the peninsula into two parts, which appears already to have been used as a geographical distinction, was made a part of the political constitution; so that the peninsula formed, from the first down to the time of Augustus, two1 provinces, the eastern, called HISPANIA CITERIOR ( ἐντός Ἱσπανία or Ἰβηρία and the western called HISPANIA ULTERIOR ( ἐκτός or ἔξω I.), the words ἐντός and ἐκτός having reference to the river IBERUS (Ebro) which was at first adopted as the natural boundary. (Strab. iii. p.166; Caes. B.C. 3.73; Cic. pro Leg. Manil. 12; pro Font. 56. 3; Liv. 28.18, 30.30, 32.27, 28, 45.16; Plin. Nat. 3.1. s. 2; Tac. Ann. 4.13; Flor. 4.2.) The boundary, however, was drawn differently at different times; so that we find, in Caesar (B.C. 1.38), Hispania Citerior extending as far as the SALTUS CASTULONENSIS, on the NE. margin of the valley of the BARTIS (Guadalquivir); and afterwards the boundary was drawn from this range, or from the sources of the Baetis to New Carthage, and later still to the town of URCI (Almeria), a little W. of the SE. point of the peninsula (CHARIDEMI PR.; C. de Gata), or even to MURGIS a little further to the W. (Artemid. ap. Steph. B. sub voce Ἰβηρίαι; Strab. l.c.; Plin. Nat. 3.3. s. 4; Const. Porph. de Admin. Imp. 2.23.) Polybius, having probably in his mind the old Greek distinction between the country of the Celts and that of the Iberians, calls the eastern province Celtiberia and the western Iberia, and makes the boundary near Saguntum; but by this he probably refers to the Ebro as the boundary, for he fell into the common mistake about the position of Saguntum (Polyb. iii 17; comp. SAGUNTM; see also Artemid. ap. Steph. B. sub voce Ἡμεροσκοπεῖον; Strab. iii. p.148; Plut. Sert. 3). Other writers use Celtiberia as a synonym for Hither Spain (Plin. Nat. 4.36; Solin. 23). Lastly, some late writers used the terms Great and Little Spain (Ἱσπανία μεγάλη and μικρά) as equivalent respectively to Hither and Further Spain (Charax, ad Const. Porph. de Admin. Imp. 2.23; comp. Steph. B. sub voce Ἱσπανίαι). Even after the division into three provinces, we still find the phrases Hispania Citerior and Ulterior, the latter including Baetica and Lusitania.

2. Administration before Augustus.

The two provinces were governed, at first, by proconsuls elected extra ordinem (Liv. 28.38; 29.13, 31.20), and afterwards by two praetors, who were usually invested with the power of proconsuls and the insignia of the 12 fasces. (Liv. 32.28, 33.26; Duker. ad Liv. 37.46, 39.29; Drakenborch. ad Liv. 40.39.) At the time of the Macedonian war, the provinces were united under one governor; but only as a temporary arrangement, and the double government was restored in B.C. 167 (Liv. 44.17, 45.16). As already observed, there, were two armies stationary in Spain; two legions in each province (comp. Caes. B.C. 1.38). The seat of government for Hither Spain was at first TARRACO and afterwards also CARTHAGO NOVA; that of the Further Province seems generally to have been at CORDUBA and sometimes at GADES

3. The Three Provinces of Tarraconensis, Baetica, and Lusitania.

Already in the time of julius Caesar we find a distinction made between the part of Further Spain which lay SE. of the Anas (Guadiana), and the country of the Lusitani and Vettones to the W. and N. of that river. He represents the country as divided between the three legati of Pompeius, of whom Afranius held Hispania Citerior, with three legions; Petreius, the country from the Saltus Castulonensis to the Anas, with two legions; and Varro, the territory of the vettones and Lusitani, on from the Anas, with two legions. (B.C. 1.38.) This distinction was adopted in the settlement of the provinces by Augustus; Hispania Ulterior being divided into the two provinces of BAETICA and LUSITAIA, while Hispania Citerior2 was called by the new name of HISPANIA TARRACONENSIS, after its old capital TARACO. (Appian, App. Hisp. 3, 102; Strab. iii. p.166; tela, 2.6; Plin. Nat. 3.2; D. C. 53.12; Const. Porph. de Admin. Imp. 2.23: the phrase tres Hispaniae is found in an inscription, ap. Marini, ii. p. 785: respecting the boundaries of the three provinces, see the several articles.)

4. Imperial Administration.

Baetica was a senatorial province; the other two were provinciae Caesaris (Strab. xvii. p.840; Suet. Aug. 27; D. C. 53.12): all three were governed by praetors, of whom the praetor of Tarraconensis had consular power; and under him were three legati and three legions. His residence was generally at Tarraco, but sometimes also at New Carthage: that of the praetor of Baetica at Corduba; that of the propraetor of Lusitania usually at Augusta Emerita. The finances were administered, in Baetica, by a quaestor, in the two other provinces by procuratores Caesaris.

5. Conventus Juridici.

For judicial purposes, the whole country was divided into districts, called convents juridici, in each of which the courts were held at a chief city, to which the convents was considered to belong. There were, according to Pliny who makes this division the basis of his description, 14 conventus in all; of which Tarraconenses had 7, Baetica 4, and Lusitania 3; as follows (Plin. Nat. 3.3. s. 4, 4.2). s. 24, 21. s. 35):--

Further particulars, including the names of the chief of the towns here counted up, are given under BAETICA, LUSITANIA, and TARRACONENSIS.

6. Changes after Augustus.

Vespasian rewarded the Spaniards for the readiness with which they espoused his cause by conferring the Jus Latii on all the cities of the peninsula. (Tac. Hist. 3.53, 70; Plin. Nat. 3.3. s. 4; coins of Vespasian, with the epigraph HISPANIA, ap. Eckhel, vol. vi. p. 338.)

Long before the new arrangement of the provinces under Constantine, the subdivision of Tarraconensis had begun by the erection of GALLAECIA and ASTURIA into a Provincia Caesaris under the Antonines, perhaps even under Hadrian. (Orelli, Inscr. No. 77.) Under Constantine, Spain, with its islands, and with the part of Africa which included the ancient Mauretania, now reckoned to Spain, was divided into the 7 provinces of BAETICA, LUSITANIA, GALLAECIA, TARRACONENSIS, CARTHAGINIENSIS, INSULAE BALEARES, and TINGITANA, which had for their respective capitals, HISPALIS, EMERITA, BRACARA, CAESARAUGUSTA, CARTHAGO NOVA, PALMA, and TINGIS Of these 7 provinces the first 3 were governed by Consules, the other 4 by Praesides; and all were subject to the Vicarius Hispaniarum, as the deputy of the Praefectus Praetorio Galliae. (S. Rufus, Brev. 5; Not. Dig. Occ. 100.20; Böcking, Annot. ad N. D. vol. ii. p. 458, where much interesting matter is collected; Zosim. 2.32, 33; Cod. Theod. L. v. et lxi.) Entirely independent of the Vicarius Hispaniae were 3 military governors (comites, Cod. Theod. L. iv. L. iii. &c.).

7. Summary of Political Geography

To complete this summary of the political geography of Spain, we subjoin a tabular list, from Ukert (vol. ii. pt. 1. p. 322), of the Peoples and Districts of the Several Provinces, as enumerated by the principal ancient authorities:--

[See next page.]


1. Position and general form.

In the period which has passed under our review, it has been seen that two leading facts respecting Spain had been established from the earliest period of historical research; namely, that it was the westernmost country of Europe,3 and that it was not (as some of the poets seem to have fancied) an island, but had its Mediterranean shore continuous with that of LIGURIA Of its actual separation from Libya there never was a doubt, even among the poets, though they look back in imagination to a time when the separation was effected by superhuman power. [HERCULIS COLUMNAE] The early knowledge of the Straits led necessarily to some knowledge of the ocean which lies beyond them [ATLANTICUM MARE]; and we have seen that, at a very early period, the Greeks were acquainted with the Atlantic coast as far as the Sacred Cape (C. S. Vincent). The campaigns in Lusitania gave them a general idea of the W. coast; and the Cantabrian War, in which the fleet of Augustus, for the first time, sailed along the N. coast, united its evidence with the knowledge already obtained of the S. of Gaul, to complete the true notion of the general form of the country, as it is well described by Arnold:--“The Spanish peninsula, joined to the main body of Europe by the isthmus of the Pyrenees, may be likened to one of the round bastion towers which stand out from the walls of an old fortified town, lofty at once and massy.” (Arnold, History of Rome, vol. iii. p. 391.) This passage is quoted for the sake of the striking form in which it puts the general idea of the object; but we may venture to improve the details, by observing, that a modern polygonal bastion might be a better image, and that the isthmus of the peninsula is more accurately described by an ancient geographer than by the modern historian, as “the isthmus” --not of the Pyreneesbut, with reference to its narrowest part, “hemmed in between the two Gallic gulfs” (Strabo, as already quoted4); and it is within this isthmus that the Pyrenees rise, like gigantic lines of fortification, to cover the whole peninsula which lies beyond them. (Comp. Strab. ii. p.127; Agathem. ii. p. 36.)

These general views were held by the geographers under the Roman empire, but with some interesting differences as to details. They all describe the country as narrowest at the Pyrenees, and gradually widening out from thence. Mela makes its width at the Pyrenees half as much as at the W. coast; Strabo, in the proportion of 3 to 5. Strabo compares it to the hide of a beast, having the neck turned towards the E., and by it joined on to Gaul (Κελτική: Strab. ii. p.127, iii. pp. 137, 138, comp. ii. pp. 119, 120; Dion. Per. 287; Eusth. ad Dion. Per. 285; Mela, 2.6, 3.1; Plin. Nat. 3.3. s. 4). It should be borne in mind that Strabo regarded the peninsula as a four-sided figure, of which the E. side was formed by the Pyrenees, which he believed to lie N. and S. parallel to the Rhine; from their extremities the N. coast ran out to the PR. NERIUM (C. Finisterre), and the S. coast [p. 1.1083]

Mastiani. Bastuli. Bastetani, and Bastetani. Bastetani.
  Bastitani. Turduli, W. of Turduli Turdetani.
Iberi Montani. Turdetania. the Pillars. Baeturia, including Turduli.
  Baeturia.   E. Turduli, Celtici.
      W. Celtici.  
Lusitani. Cuneus. Lusitania. Lusitania. Turdetani.
  Celtici. Turduli. Turduli. Celtici.
  Lusitania.     Lusitani.
  Oretani.   Bastuli. Bastitani.
  Bastetani.   Mavitania.  
  Aeletani.   Deitania.  
  Sidetani.   Contestania. Contestani.
  Ilergetes.   Edetania. Edetani.
  Indigetes.   Ilergaones. Ilercaones.
  Lacetani.   Cossetania.  
  Lartoleaetae.   Ilergetes.  
      Laletani. Laletani.
      Indigetes. Indigetes.
Oclades.     Bastuli. Bastitani.
Oretani. Oretani.   Oretani. Oretani.
Carpetani. Carpetani.   Carpetani.  
  Vettones.   Vettones. Vettones.
Vaccaci. Vaccaei.   Vaccaei. Vaccaei.
  Callaici.   Gallaeci. Callaici.
      Grovii. Lucenses.
  Celtici.   Celtici.  
  Artabri.     Artabri.
  Astures. Astures. Astures. Astures.
  Cantabri.   Cantabri. Cantabri.
    Autrigones. Autrigones. Autrigones.
    Orgenomesci.   Caristi.
    Varduli. Varduli. Varduli.
  Vascones.   Vascones. Vascones.
  Cerretani.   Cerretani. Ilergetes.
  Jaccetani.   Lacetani. Cerretani.
  Ilergetes.   Ausetani. Indigetes.
  Verones.   In the N. In the N.
  Celtiberi;   Turmodigi. Murbogi.
  including   Carietes. Pelendones.
  Arevaci, and   Vennenses. Arevacae.
  Lusones.   In the S. In the S.
      Celtiberi. Carpetani.
      Arevaci. Celtiberi.
      Pelendones. Lobetani.
        In the E.

[p. 1.1084]

to the PR. SACRUM5 , and the fourth side by the W. coast, extending N. and S., between the two headlands named, parallel to the Pyrenees. (Strab. iii. p.137; comp. Just. 44.1.) When others call it triangular they probably reckon the whole N. side, along the Pyrenees and N. coast, as one, which is more accurate. (Oros. 1.2; Aeth. Ister. Cosmog. p. 43, ed. Simler.) Its true form may be regarded, by a rough process of estimation, as a trapezium contained by lines drawn from the C. Creus to C. Finisterre, on the N.; from C. Finisterre to C. S. Vincent, on the W.; from C. S. Vincent to C. de Gata, on the S.; and from C. de Gata to C. Creus, on the E.: but, by drawing intermediate lines from headland to headland, the number of sides might be considerably varied.

2. Boundaries.

No country which is not insular has its boundaries so well defined as Spain: namely, on the E. and part of the S. side (the S. side of Strabo and other ancient writers), the Mediterranean [MARE INTERNUM]; on the rest of the S., the W., and part of the N. sides, the Atlantic [ATLANTICUM MARE]; and on the remainder of the N side (the E. side of Strabo and other ancient writers), the Pyrenees [PYRENARI M.]. Different names were applied to the seas which washed the coasts (the bays will be mentioned presently), as follows: the part of the Mediterranean on the S. coast was called BALEARICUM MARE and IBERICUM MARE; the part along the S. coast, INTERNUM MARE specifically; then came the Straits of Gades or Hercules [GADITANUM FRETUM]; the part of the ocean along the S. side was called GADITANUS OCEANUS and that along the N. coast CANTABRICUM MARE.

3. Size.

The Spanish peninsula lies between 36° 1′ and 43° 45′ N. lat., and between long. 3° 20′ E. and 9° 21′ W. Its greatest length from N. to S. is about 460 miles, and its greatest breadth from E. to W. about 570 miles; its surface, including the Balearic isles, about 171,300 square miles. As might naturally be expected, the numbers given by the ancients vary greatly from these figures and from one another.6 Eratosthenes made the distance from the Gades to the Sacred Cape 5 days' sail (Strab. iii. p.148), and otherwise, from the Sacred Cape to the Pillars, 3000, and thence to the Pyrenees 3000 stadia; and therefore the greatest length 9000 stadia (Strab. i. p.64, ii. p. 106). Artemidorus reckoned 1700 stadia from the Sacred Cape to the Pillars. (Strab. iii. p.148.) Polybius gives the distance from the Pillars to the Pyrenees as somewhat less than 8000 stadia, as follows: from the Pillars to New Carthage, 3000 stadia; thence to the Iberus, 2600 stadia; thence to Emporium, 1600 stadia (Plb. 3.39; Strab. ii. p.106): the remaining distance, to the Pyrenees, he does not specify, but it is manifestly so much too great that, for this and other reasons, Ukert proposes to change the lastmentioned number from 1600 to 2000, or 2200, which would make the total from the Pillars to Emporium 7800 stadia (Ukert, vol. ii. pt. 1. p. 256 b. If this emendation be sound, we may account for the error as made by a copyist to agree with the 1600 stadia given by Strabo from the Ebro to the Pyrenees). Strabo makes the length from the Pyrenees to the W. coast, in a straight line, 6000 stadia, and he also calls this expressly the greatest length: elsewhere he assigns the same length to that part of the S. coast which lay within the Straits as follows: from Calpe to New Carthage, 2200 stadia; thence to the Iberus, about the same; thence to the Pyrenees,1600: the greatest breadth, namely, along the W. coast, he makes 5000 stadia; the least, namely along the Pyrenees, 3000 stadia. (Strab. ii. pp. 106,127, 128, iii. pp. 137, 156.)

Pliny quotes various statements, according to which the length varied from 1200 to 1500 M. P., the breadth from 900 to 1100, and the whole circuit of the coast from 2600 to 3000 M. P. (Plin. Nat. 3.1. s. 2, 3. s. 4; 4.21. s. 35). Ptolemy places Hispania between 30 and 9° long. and 36° and 46° lat. (2.4). In all these statements, it is important to observe that the geographers founded their estimates of the distances almost entirely on the itinerary measurements.

4. Outline of the Coast, Promontories, and Bays.

A glance at the map of Spain will show at once twelve salient points in the outline of the coast, besides some others of secondary importance. The first, beginning at the N. end of the E. coast, is that formed by the E. extremity of the Pyrenees, PYRENES PROM. (τὸ τῆς Πυρήνης ἄκρον) or VENERIS PROM or PYRENAEA VENUS (τὸ Ἀφροδίσιον, ἱερὸν τῆς Πνρηναίας Ἀφροδίτης), a mountainous headland, projecting far into the sea, and dividing the gulf of CERVARIA (Cervera) or PORTUS VENERIS on the N. from that of RHODA and EMPORIAE (Bay of Rosas) on the S.; its name being obtained from a temple of Venus which stood upon it, (Liv. 26.19; Strab. iv. pp. 178, 181; Mela, 2.5.8; Plin. Nat. 3.3. s. 4.) From the S. side of the Bay of Rosas the coast preserves a pretty even direction, about SW. to a little S. of BARCINO (Barcelona), whence it forms a very large bay, which is terminated on the S. by the headland of DIANIUM (C. S. Martin), running far out to the east. In the upper part of this large bay are TARRACO and the delta of the IBERUS; its lower part, from about 40° N. lat., forms the SUCRONENSIS SINUS (G. of Valencia), facing the east. To the SSW. of the Dianium Pr. and E. of Carthago Nova lies the almost equally conspicuous headland of SATURNI PR. (C. de Palos); and the bay between them was called ILLICITANUS SINUS (B. of Alicante). Proceeding SW. from the Saturni Pr. we come to the CHARIDEMI PR. (C. de Gata), running out far to the S. and forming the turning point from the E. to the S. coast: between this and the former lay the MASSIENUS SINUS, which has no specific modern name. These are the four great headlands and the three large bays of the E. coast.

Doubling the Charidemi Pr. and passing by the comparatively small URCITANUS SINUS (G. of Almeria), upon which the boundary between Tarraconensis; and Baetica comes down to the coast, the coast pursues almost a straight line to MALAGA (Malaga), which forms the E. extremity (as the M. of the Baetis forms the western) of the base of the great triangular projection of the S. coast which runs out to meet a similar projection of the African coast, leaving between them only the narrow passage called the GADITANUM or HERCULEUM FRETUM (Straits of Gibraltar). The E. end of the Strait is guarded by the two rocky headlands called the Pillars of Hercules [HERCULIS COLUMNAE], of which the one on the European side, so celebrated under the names of CAIPE and Gibraltar, forms [p. 1.1085]the termination of the Mediterranean coast of Spain.7 The W. entrance of the Straits is formed by a headland, named, like most of those which have been mentioned, after a temple which stood upon it, JUNONIS PR., doubtless an object of deep reverence from the time of the Phoenicians downwards; its ancient sanctity has been long forgotten, but, even in a work like this, a tribute must be paid to the glories of Cape Trafalgar. Proceeding, NW. past the island and city of Gades, we come to one of the minor headlands, that which lies outside of the mouth of the BAETIS (Guadalquivir), marked by the CAEPIONIS TURRIS (Chipiona). Hence the coast sweeps round a bay which has no name, NW. and W. to the mouth of the ANAS (Guadiana), where the coast of BAETICA terminates, and that of LUSITANIA begins. The first object on the S. coast of Lusitania is the projection called CUNEUS (C. de S. Maria); and about 1 1/4° W. of this, the S. side of the peninsula terminates at the frequently mentioned SACRUM PR. (C. S. Vincent), where, as at :Trafalgar, ancient sanctity is eclipsed by modern glory.

The W. coast of LUSITANIA is so straight as to form no large bays, and it has only three headlands worth mentioning; namely, the long and sharp promontory S. of the estuary of the TAGUS named BARBARIUM PR.8 of Strabo (C. Espichel); then the W. point both of the estuary of the Tagus and of the whole coast, the MAGNUM PR.9 of Mela and Pliny (C. da Roca); and lastly, about 40′ N. of this, the LUNAR or LUNARIUM PR. of Ptolemy (C. Carvoeiro: but see note just above).

At the mouth of the DURIUS (Douro) the coast of Lusitania ends, and that of GALLAECIA begins. It preserves the same character of straightness as far N. as the MINIUS (Minho), beyond which it is broken into a series of estuaries of river (enumerated under GALLAECIA), the points of land between which require no specific notice, till we come to the extreme NW. corner of the peninsula. Here the W. coast terminates at the headland. called CELTICUM or NERIUM (C. de Finisterre), which lies almost at the intersection of two lines, each of which may be taken as a “datum line” for the W. and N. sides of the peninsula. These lines are the meridian of 9° W. long. and the parallel of 43° N. lat. The former runs through the W. side of the Sacred Cape (C. S. Vincent), just outside of the W. coast, except for the portion which projects westward about the mouth of the Tagus: while the latter keeps from about 50 to about 20 miles within (i. e. S. of) the N. coast, and coincides very nearly with the chain of mountains which form the W. continuation of the Pyrenees.10 The greatest rise of the N. coast above the datum line of 43° N. lat. is made at once from the Pr. Nerium, whence the coast runs NE. up to the CORU or TRILEUCUM PR. (C. Ortegal), which forms the extreme N. point of the whole peninsula. Hence the N. coast proceeds nearly straight to the E., but with a gradual declination to the S., having no large bays, and no promontories worth naming till we reach that of OEASO (C. del Higuer), at its E. extremity, which is formed by a spur of the Pyrenees.

In this outline, the statements of Strabo, Mela, Pliny, Ptolemy, and other ancient writers have been arranged in their several places, according to the true figure of the coast: further details are given under the respective articles. One matter which requires especial notice, namely, Pliny's great error in making the W. coast end, and the N. coast begin, immediately above the estuary of the Tagus, is more fully referred to under ARTABRI

Before proceeding to the interior, it should be mentioned that, besides the lesser islands near the coast, the great group now known as the Balearic Islands, E. of C. S. Martin (Pr. Dianium), were always considered to belong to Hispania. [BALEARES, PITYUSAE.]

5. The Interior, with its Mountains and Rivers.

Few maps present to the eye a more striking picture than that of Spain; and yet, clearly as the physical features stand forth, an unpractised eye may easily misunderstand them. A single glance suffices to show that the country is intersected, through the greatest portion of its breadth, by five great chains of mountains, the two outermost of which fall off at once, on the N. and S. respectively, to the bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean, while between them and the other three there are inclosed four great valleys, forming the river-basins of the Douro, Tagus, Guadiana, and Guadalquivir; and that another chain, though less regular, running across, and, to some extent uniting, the E. extremities of these five, divides the sources of the rivers just named from another great river-basin, that of the Ebro; and, lastly, that, on the E. side of this basin, a great branch of the Pyrenees, running to the S., forms on its E. declivity another maritime border along the entire NE. coast of the peninsula. All this is very obvious; but it is quite insufficient for a clear outline of the structure of the peninsula. There is another element: one not quite so obvious on the map; but one which makes Spain so entirely unlike every other country of Europe, and which has so materially influenced its climate, its population, the foreign settlements in its several parts, the commerce of other nations with it, the campaigns carried on within its boundaries by contending empires, and its own intestine struggles, both in ancient and in modern times, that a right knowledge of it is of the first consequence to the whole study of the history of the country. This peculiar feature of the peninsula is well described by Arnold:--“Spain rises from the Atlantic on one side, and the Mediterranean on the other, not into one or two thin lines of mountains divided by vast tracts of valleys or low plains, but into a huge tower of table-land, from which the mountains themselves rise again, like the battlements on the summit. The plains of Castile are mountain plains, raised nearly 2000 feet above the level of the sea, and the elevation of the city of Madrid is nearly double that of [p. 1.1086]the top of Arthur's Seat, the hill or mountain which overhangs Edinburgh.” (History of Rome, vol. iii. p. 391.) The elevation of this central table-land is, in fact, higher than that of any other table-land in Europe, while its extent is so great as to comprehend nearly one-half of the area of the peninsula. Its limits correspond pretty nearly to that of the quadrangle formed by the parallels of 38° and 43° N. lat. and the meridians of 1° and 8° W. long. Its boundaries on the N. and S. are strikingly defined by the continuous and lofty chains of mountains called respectively the Mountains of Asturias [VASCONUM SALTUS and VINDIUS M.] and the Sierra Morena. On the E. its separation from the basin of the Ebro and the E. maritime district is effected by a less perfectly continuous series of high lands and mountain ridges, called by the ancients IDUBEDA in the N. part, and OROSPEDA in the S.; and on the W. it subsides to the Atlantic by means of the extreme portions of the mountains which traverse it from E. to W., with a declination more or less to the S.11 becoming more decided towards the extremities, till at last their W. slopes fall down to the Atlantic, forming the valleys and terraces of Portugal. [Comp. LUSITANIA] Of the ranges which thus traverse the table-land the most important is that which runs SW. almost through its centre, and terminates in C. da Roca (Magnum Pr.), W. of the mouth of the Tagus (where it was called HERMINIUS M.: no specific names are given to the other portions of the chain), dividing the region into two nearly equal parts. Of these divisions the northern contains the river basin of the Douro [DURIUS], and is now known as the table land of Old Castile and Leon; the southern, or table-land of New Castile and Estremadura, is much more mountainous, and is subdivided by another range, which has no specific ancient name, into the river-basins of the Tagus [TAGUS] and the Guadiana [ANAS].

Of the lower districts by which this table-land is inclosed on all sides, like a platform surrounded with ascents of various slopes, that on the W. coast is so closely connected with the valleys of the table-land itself, that (however distinct from it in modern geography and history) the former may be considered by the student of ancient history as art appendage to the latter. The N. maritime district forms the narrow strip along the bay of Biscay, which was peopled by tribes as rugged as itself. [ASTURES, CANTABRI, GALLAECIA.] The districts E. and S. of the central table-land are of the utmost importance in history. Lying open to the Mediterranean, with a vast sea-board, and abounding in valuable productions, they early came to be more closely connected with the civilised states around the Inner Sea than with the wild regions in the interior of the peninsula. The E. portion consists properly of two parts; the river basin of the Ebro [IBERUS]. which lies much lower than the central table-land, but still considerably higher than the sea; and the E. maritime region, extending from the Pyrenees to New Carthage: but the two parts are so closely connected in ancient history that they may be regarded as one division. Thus viewed, the E. district is of a triangular form, having the Pyrenees for its base, and its vertex at New Carthage and the C. de Palos, its E. side formed by the Mediterranean shore, and its W. side by the ranges which divide it from the central tableland; and answering to the provinces of Catalonia, Arragon, with the S. part of Navarre, Valencia, and parts of New Castile and Murcia.

The S. district is of still far greater importance, and may be regarded as forming, to a great degree, a country by itself, distinct from all the rest of the peninsula; as, indeed, it has been politically and historically a separate country during some of the most important periods of Spanish history. This country--the TARTESSIS and BAETICA of the ancients, the Andalucia of modern geography--is severed from the rest of Spain by the great chain of the Sierra Morena [MARIANUS MONS], on the S. of which lies the valley of the Guadalquivir [BAETIS], open entirely to the W. shore, but inclosed on the S. by another chain of lofty mountains, named, from their snowy summits, the Sierra Nevada [ILIPULA], which sink down to the S. coast by the intermediate chain of the Alpujarras, and form on the N. the plain of Granada. On the E. side, the valley of the Baetis is entirely shut in by ranges which run NE. and SW., linking the Sierra Nevada and the Sierra Morena to one another and to the chain of OROSPEDA on the W. border of the eastern district. Of these cross chains, the chief are those called the CASTULONENSIS SALTUS and the ARGENTARIUS MONS

While thus separated by mountains from the rest of Spain, Andalucia lies perfectly open to Africa and the Mediterranean,--a fact of the utmost importance in relation to its ancient ethnography as well as its modern history. No one who rightly appreciates this fact will wonder that it was a Phoenician dependency while all the rest of Spain was still barbarian, nor that it was united to Marocco under the later Roman empire, under the Vandals, and under the Arabs, nor that the kingdom of Granada should have so long survived the expulsion of the Moors from the rest of Spain.

To sum up this description. For the purposes of ancient history and geography the peninsula of Spain is divisible into four main parts:--(1.) The central table-land, with the W. coast, containing the river basins of the Douro, Tagus, and Guadiana [ANAS]: (2.) The mountainous N. coast, comprising the ancient GALLAECIA, ASTURIA, and CANTABRIA: (3.) The valley of the IBERUS and the E. coast: (4.) BABTICA, or Andalucia.

The details respecting the mountains and rivers which have been mentioned, as well as the lists of many others, not important enough to be included in this general outline, are given under the several articles bearing their names, and under those describing the three provinces and the smaller districts of the peninsula.


The diversities in the surface of the peninsula are attended with a corresponding variety of climate; so that Spain, though the southernmost country of Europe, has, in different parts, the climates of nearly all the rest of the continent. This is well set forth by Niebuhr: “Andalucia, the southernmost part, is almost identical with ancient Baetica, and, as is observed even by Strabo, is a country quite different from the rest of Spain. . . . While Valencia is flat and well watered, but wanting in energy, Andalucia and Granada are countries matured by the sun in the highest degree; they are scarcely European, but almost like tropical countries. The eastern division [p. 1.1087]or the country of the Iberus, if we examine its northern parts, Aragon and Catalonia, already greatly resembles a northern country. Valencia stands in the middle between them. The whole country of the Tagus is throughout a table-land, very high at its commencement, piercingly cold and unhealthy as far as the frontier of Portugal. . . . . . Between the Sierra Morena and the Douro we have the large plain of Estremadura, which is fertile but unhealthy, and perfectly flat. The plain of Leon is scarcely inhabitable on account of its drought and barrenness. The southern parts of Castile are productive, and the continuation of the valley into Portugal changes its character so much as to become extremely rich: it still contains large plains, but the greater part is a beautiful hilly country.” (Lectures on Ancient Ethnography and Geography, vol. ii. pp. 282, 283.) Arnold also has a brief passage on the subject, well worth quoting:--“The centre of Spain, notwithstanding its genial latitude, only partially enjoys the temperature of a southern climate; while some of the valleys of Andalucia, which lie near the sea, present the vegetation of the tropics, the palm-tree, the banana, and the sugar-cane. Thus, the southern coast seemed to invite an early civilisation; while the interior, with its bleak and arid plains, was fitted to remain for centuries the stronghold of barbarism.” (History of Rome, vol. iii. pp. 391, 392.)

With these descriptions the statements of the ancient writers agree tolerably well. It would be tedious to refer at length to the passages of Polybius, Strabo, Pliny, Justin, and other writers, which are collected by Ukert (vol. i. pt. 1. pp. 323, 324).

Its fertility is generally celebrated by the ancients, who mention among its products, corn, wine, oil, fruits, pasturage, metals of all kinds, and precious stones. Baetica was famed for its abundant harvests; Lusitania, for its numerous flocks; Turdetania, for its timber; the fields of Carthago Nova and other plains, for the spartum, from which cordage was made. But the great attraction of the peninsula to civilised nations, from the earliest times, was found in its mines of the precious metals, especially the silver mines in the mountains of the south. It also yielded gold, iron, quicksilver, cinnabar, rock-salt, and other valuable minerals. (See the authorities ap. Ukert, l.c.: comp. BAETICA, CARTHAGO, CARTHAGO NOVA.)


The ethnography of the Spanish peninsula is a very difficult subject. It is certain that, in the historical period, the chief stock of the population was the race called Iberian, with a considerable intermixture of Celts, and, in the S., of Phoenicians also. But as to the precise position of the Iberians in the human family, and as to the questions, whence they came into the peninsula, in what exact relation they stood to the Celtic population, and what has become of them in the subsequent movements of races, which have swept like mighty tide-waves backwards and forwards over the face of the peninsula:--these are problems of which we cannot yet be said to have obtained a very satisfactory solution.

The prevailing opinion among the ancients, and the one most in favour with modern scholars, represents the Iberians as an aboriginal people, in addition to whom the peninsula received an immigration of Celts from beyond the Pyrenees, who overpowered the Iberians. The two peoples coalesced to a great extent, forming the great nation of the CELTIBERI; but pure Iberian and pure Celtic tribes were still to be found in various parts of the peninsula. (Hdt. 2.33; Diod. 5.33, 35; Strab. i. p.33, iii. pp. 148, 151, 153, 157, 158, 162; Plb. 2.31; Appian, App. Hisp. 2; Plin. Nat. 3.1. s. 3; Lucan 4.9; Sil. 3.140.) The Celtiberians occupied chiefly the centre of the country, as well as parts of Lusitania and of the N. coast. [CELTIBERI.] The pure Iberians dwelt chiefly in the Pyrenees and on all round the coast, and the pure Celts on both sides of the river Anas, and in the extreme NW. of the peninsula, about the promontory Nerium. [CELTICA] Lastly, there was a large admixture of Phoenicians in Baetica; and on other points of the S. and E. coasts colonies were established by the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, and by various Greek states, as the Phocaeans, Rhodians, Zacynthians, Samians, and Massaliots (Hdt. 1.163; Strab. iii. pp. 151, 157, 159; Mela, 3.6; Plin. Nat. 5.19. s. 17); besides the great influx of Romans at a later period.

But, as regards the first inhabitants, a directly opposite opinion has been held by not a few eminent scholars, and is supported by the high authority of Niebuhr, who expounds it as follows:--“Spain is destined by nature almost more than Italy, to form one compact state: no one can have a doubt about this, when looking at the three seas by which it is surrounded. Nevertheless, however, it did not become united as one whole till a late period, though this happened before the time of which we have written records; for there can be no doubt that previously it was divided into two distinct countries. On the one side, the Pyrenees formed its natural boundary towards Gaul (in the course of time, however, they were crossed, and the Iberians ruled over the country from the Garonne to the Rhone); but at an earlier period another natural boundary line was formed by the Sierra Morena, an extensive range of mountains, which, for a couple of centuries, formed the boundary between the Christian and Mahommedan parts of Spain. These same mountains, no doubt, also separated the Iberians from the Celts. The heights in the north of Spain, whence the Tagus, Durius, and Minius flow towards the sea, and whence, on the other side, smaller rivers carry their waters towards the Ebro, were inhabited by Celts, who were also called Celtiberians. Other Celts bearing the name Celtici dwelt in Algarbia and the Portuguese Estremadura, and others again inhabited the province Entre Dowro e Minho in the north of Portugal. These three Celtic nations were quite isolated in Spain. The Celtiberians were not pure Celts, but, as even their name indicates, a mixture of Celts and Iberians; but the Celts in Portugal are expressly stated to have been pure Celts. The latter attracted the attention even of the ancients, especially of the excellent Posidonius, who made so many correct observations, but allowed himself in this instance to be misled. He is of opinion that the Celts had immigrated into Spain, for he reasoned thus: as the Celts could migrate into Italy and across the Danube as far as the Dnieper it was far less difficult for them to enter the neighbouring country of Spain. But such isolated parts of a nation cannot have arrived in a country by immigration; on the contrary, the Iberians appear extending themselves and in possession of Aquitania and Languedoc at a very early period; how then could the Celts, not being able to maintain the Pyrenees, have spread over the whole peninsula? [p. 1.1088]It is probable, nay almost evident, that it was the Iberians that migrated and extended themselves; and this opinion agrees with the most ancient traditions of the Celts in Ammianus Marcellinus, according to which they were once masters of all the west of Europe, but were expelled from many parts. If we suppose that the Celts dwelt as far as the Sierra Morena, and that the Iberians, perhaps reinforced by their kinsmen from Africa, pressed them forward, this supposition would account for some Celtic ruins which are still extant; and the Celts may have capitulated in a similar manner to that described in the book of Joshua. As one part of England was occupied by Germans so completely as to destroy every trace of the ancient inhabitants, while elsewhere, as e. g. in Devonshire, the Britons, in large numbers, lived among the Germans and became mixed with them, so the Iberians expelled the ancient Celtic population, wherever the nature of the country did not protect it; but the Celts maintained themselves in the mountains between the Tagus and the Iberus, and the Iberians only subdued them, and then settled among them. In course of time the two nations became amalgamated, and thus formed the Celtiberians, whose character, however, is essentially Iberian.” (Lectures on Ancient Ethnography and Geography, vol. ii. pp. 280, 281.)

In further support of these views, we have the fact already mentioned, that Spain lies quite open to immigration from the East by way of the Mediterranean and the Straits; the now established fact that N. Africa, with which Spain is thus connected, was peopled from the East; and traditions of settlements from that side, of no great value certainly by themselves, but of some interest as agreeing with the results of other investigations. (Sal. Jug. 18; Strab. xv. p.687; J. AJ 10.11.1.) The decision of the question, if it is to be decided at all, requires a more profound examination than has yet been made of the remnants of the old Iberian language as preserved in inscriptions, in geographical names, and in the dialects of the Basques, who are now admitted on all hands to be the lineal descendants of the old Iberians. The foundations of such an investigation have been laid by the late W. von Humboldt, in his work already mentioned. (Prüfung der Untersuchungen über die Urbewohner Hispaniens vermittelst der Baskischen Sprache, Berlin, 1821: comp. Freret, Mém. de l'Acad. des Inscr. vol. xviii. p. 78; Hoffmann, die Iberer ina Western und Osten, Leipz. 1838.)

Thus much is certain that, in the whole period of ancient history, the great bulk of the population was Iberian; and, through all subsequent infusions, large as they have been, of Roman, Gothic, and Arab blood, the great mass of the nation still retains the leading characteristics which are ascribed to the Iberians in general and to the Celtiberians in particular, by Strabo and other ancient writers, and which are summed up by Arnold in the following words:--“The grave dress (Strab. iii. p.145), the temperance and sobriety, the unyielding spirit, the extreme indolence, the perseverance in guerilla warfare, and the remarkable absence of the highest military qualities, ascribed by the Greek and Roman writers to the ancient Iberians, are all more or less characteristic of the Spaniards of modern times. The courtesy and gallantry of the Spaniard to women has also come down to him from his Iberian ancestors: in the eyes of the Greeks, it. was an argument of an imperfect civilisation, that among the Iberians the bridegroom gave, instead of receiving, a dowry; that daughters sometimes inherited, to the exclusion of sons, and, thus becoming the heads of the family, gave portions to their brothers, that they might be provided with suitable wives. (Strab. iii. p.165.) In another point, the great difference between the people of the south of Europe, and those of the Teutonic stock, was remarked also in Iberia: the Iberians were ignorant, but not simple-hearted; on the contrary, they were cunning and mischievous, with habits of robbery almost indomitable--fond of brigandage, though incapable of the great combinations of war. (Strab. iii. p.154.) These, in some degree, are qualities common to almost all barbarians; but they offer a strong contrast to the character of the Germans, whose words spoke what was in their hearts, and of whose most powerful tribe it is recorded that their ascendancy was maintained by no other arms than those of justice.” (Hist. of Rome, vol. iii. pp. 396, 397.)

The different tribes, however, were distinguished by very different degrees of character. The Cantabrians, and the peoples of the N. coast in general, were the wildest and rudest: the Celtiberians, though scarcely more civilised, were of a very noble disposition: the Vaccaei were (under the Romans, at least) highly civilised, and only inferior to the Turdetani of Baetica, who cultivated science and had a literature of their own. [TURDETANIA.]

There remain two very striking points in which the ancient Iberians and the modern Spaniards bear the closest resemblance to each other. The one is, not merely the disunion, but the alienation and exasperation, which the several nations have ever displayed towards each other, and which has made them the almost helpless victims, or the still more helpless dependents, of foreign foes or friends, whom they have afterwards requited with internecine hatred or bitter ingratitude. The other point referred to is the obstinate endurance with which they have fought behind walls, as attested, among other instances, by the sieges of SAGUNTUM and NUMANTIA Gerona and Zaragoza; a quality, in both cases, strangely contrasted with their inability to stand the shock of armies on the open field of battle. “In Condé‘s History of the Arabs, a general, in his despatch to the Caliph, says of the Spaniards: On horseback they are eagles; in the defence of their towns, lions; but in the field they are women.” (Niebuhr, Lectures on Anc. Eth., &c. vol. ii. p. 286: the whole Lecture, as well as the passage on Spain in Arnold's History, to both of which such frequent reference has been made in this article, deserve the most attentive perusal: the half-volume devoted to Hispania in Ukert's Geographie der Griechen und Römer is a masterly production, and contains a collection of references to nearly all the materials required for the study; but the reader of Ukert must be constantly on his guard against false references. Forbiger, Handbuch der alten Geographie, vol. iii. pp. 4--109, follows close in Ukert's steps, correcting many of his false references, but introducing others of his own; he adds, however, some valuable notices of the modern literature of the subject. Among the works of the ancient writers, Strabo's third book stands pre-eminent for its fulness and general accuracy. The conquest of the peninsula by the barbarians, and the transition to its medieval history, form too large a subject to be entered on here: all that is necessary for the purpose [p. 1.1089]of this work will be found in the articles on the Alans, Goths, and Vandals.) 1066.)

The annexed coin, with the Roman legend HISPANORUM, is generally considered as belonging to the Hispanians in general: but there is much reason to believe that it does not really belong to Spain at all, but was struck in Sicily by a colony of Spanish auxiliaries settled in that country.



1 Hence, as already observed, the names Hispaniae and Ἰβηρίαι; and also duae Hispaniae, Cic. ll. sup. cit.

2 The name H. Citerior was called still continued to be used; and so, though less commonly, was that of H. Ulterior, sometimes in its old sense (Plin. Nat. 3.3. s. 4), and sometimes for Baetica alone. (Plin. Nat. 3.1. s. 2, where both senses occur at once: “Ulterior appellata, eadem Baetica . . . . Ulterior in duas, per longitudinem, provincias dividitur.” Perhaps, however, the first words only mean that the first land of Europe begins with H. Ulterior or H. Baetica, without positively implying the full equivalence of the names.)

3 This involved its being the W.--most country of the known world, according to the views of the ancient historians and geographers, from Herodotus down to Ptolemy, all of whom believed the W. coast of Africa to fall off to the SE. either at once from the Straits, or from a point opposite to the Sacred Promontory. [LIBYA] Of course, we speak here of the mainland, excepting the FORTUNATAE INSULAE and the semi-fabulous ATLANTIS

4 This correction may appear trifling to some: but, apart from the general requirement of minute accuracy in descriptive geography, the point is really an important one. The chain of the Pyrenees is not, as people often think, perfectly continuous from sea to sea. Beginning, on the E., at C. de Creus, above the gulf of Rosas, it maintains an unbroken line, penetrable only by difficult mountain passes, till it ALMOST touches the bay of Biscay; but, instead of actually reaching the sea, the main chain continues its westward course, parallel to the N. coast, only throwing off lateral spurs to the coast. and thus leaving a pass which has proved in all ages the vulnerable point in the line. Indeed, if the actual chain were to be insisted on as the N. boundary of Spain, the whole line of coast, including Guipuzçoa, Biscay, Santander, the Asturias, and part of Gallicia, would belong physically to France. [See further, under PYRENAEI M.]

5 Elsewhere, however (ii. p. 128), he makes the S. coast end at CALPE Gibraltar.

6 N. B. 10 stadia==1 geog. mile.

7 The Cape of Tarifa, in the middle of the Straits, deserves notice as the southernmost point of the peninsula, though it has no specific name in ancient geography.

8 Possibly these two names may be meant to denote one and the same headland, viz. the C. Espichel; and the next, PR. LUNAE, may be the C. da Roca.

9 The cape of Tarifa, in the middle of the Straits, deserves notice as the southernmost point of the peninsula, though it has no specific name in ancient geography.

10 For the sake of those who find such modes of reference useful, another pair of co-ordinate axes may be given for the peninsula in general. Taking TOLETUM (Toledo), as a centre, it will be found that the meridian of 1° W. long. and the parallel of 40° N. lat. intersect a very little N. of it, dividing the peninsula into four quarters, the lengths and breadths of which along the axes (though not their areas) are nearly equal.

11 The northernmost range does not come exactly under this description: its course is almost due W. until it throws off a number of branches, by which it subsides to the Atlantic, forming the mountain region of Gallicia.

hide References (80 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (78):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.49
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.163
    • Herodotus, Histories, 2.33
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.165
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 338
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 339
    • Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 10.11.1
    • Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 1.211
    • Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 4.28
    • Appian, Wars in Spain, 13.76
    • Appian, Wars in Spain, 1.3
    • Appian, Wars in Spain, 8.41
    • Appian, Wars in Spain, 9.44
    • Appian, Wars in Spain, 16.102
    • Appian, Wars in Spain, 1.2
    • Appian, Wars in Spain, 9.47
    • Appian, Wars in Spain, 9.51
    • Appian, Wars in Spain, 9.55
    • Polybius, Histories, 2.31
    • Polybius, Histories, 35.3
    • Polybius, Histories, 3.27
    • Polybius, Histories, 3.37
    • Polybius, Histories, 3.39
    • Polybius, Histories, 35.4
    • Polybius, Histories, 3.24
    • Cicero, On Pompey's Command, 12
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 1.530
    • Vergil, Georgics, 3.408
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 27
    • Vitruvius, On Architecture, 7.3
    • Tacitus, Annales, 4.13
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 3.70
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 3.53
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 82
    • Lucan, Civil War, 4.9
    • Lucan, Civil War, 6.255
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 37.2
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.3
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.4
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 4.36
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.19
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 7.48
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.1
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.2
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 8.11
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 8.58
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 45, 16
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 23, 21
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 28, 4
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 28, 38
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 33, 26
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 34, 13
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 39, 29
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 26, 19
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 29, 13
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 29, 3
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 28, 18
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 30, 30
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 31, 20
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 37, 46
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 21, 2
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 40, 39
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 40, 49
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 44, 17
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 32, 27
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 32, 28
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 34, 17
    • Thucydides, Histories, 6.2
    • Cicero, De Senectute, 19
    • Sallust, Bellum Iugurthinum, 18
    • Plutarch, Sertorius, 3
    • Arrian, Anabasis, 7.15
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 5.33
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 5.35
    • Aelian, De Natura Animalium, 13.15
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 3.2.21
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 7.4.5
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 9.3.7
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.1
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.3
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