previous next
[27]

But in the case of things not so significant, either not at that time or for the purposes of his work, how could anyone find fault with Homer for omitting them? For example, for omitting the Tanaïs River, which is well known for no other reason than that it is the boundary between Asia and Europe. But the people of that time were not yet using either the name "Asia" or "Europe," nor yet had the inhabited world been divided into three continents as now, for otherwise he would have named them somewhere because of their very great significance, just as he mentions Libya and also the Lips, the wind that blows from the western parts of Libya. But since the continents had not yet been distinguished, there was no need of mentioning the Tanaïs either. Many things were indeed worthy of mention, but they did not occur to him; for of course adventitiousness is much in evidence both in one's discourse and in one's actions. From all these facts it is clear that every man who judges from the poet's failure to mention anything that he is ignorant of that thing uses faulty evidence. And it is necessary to set forth several examples to prove that it is faulty, for many use such evidence to a great extent. We must therefore rebuke them when they bring forward such evidences, even though in so doing I shall be repeating previous argument.1 For example, in the case of rivers, if anyone should say that the poet is ignorant of some river because he does not name it, I shall say that his argument is silly, because the poet does not even name the Meles River, which flows past Smyrna, the city which by most writers is called his birth-place, although he names the Hermus and Hyllus Rivers; neither does he name the Pactolus River, which flows into the same channel as these two rivers and rises in Tmolus, a mountain which he mentions;2 neither does he mention Smyrna itself, nor the rest of the Ionian cities; nor the most of the Aeolian cities, though he mentions Miletus and Samos and Lesbos and Tenedos; nor yet the Lethaeus River, which flows past Magnesia, nor the Marsyas River, which rivers empty into the Maeander, which last he mentions by name, as also“the Rhesus and Heptaporus and Caresus and Rhodius,
3and the rest, most of which are no more than small streams. And when he names both many countries and cities, he sometimes names with them the rivers and mountains, but sometimes he does not. At any rate, he does not mention the rivers in Aetolia or Attica, nor in several other countries. Besides, if he mentions rivers far away and yet does not mention those that are very near, it is surely not because he was ignorant of them, since they were known to all others. Nor yet, surely, was he ignorant of peoples that were equally near, some of which he names and some not; for example he names the Lycians and the Solymi, but not the Milyae; nor yet the Pamphylians or Pisidians; and though he names the Paphlagonians, Phrygians, and Mysians, he does not name the Mariandyni; and he mentions the Amazons, but not the White Syrians, or Cappadocians, or Lycaonians, though he repeatedly mentions the Phoenicians and the Egyptians and the Ethiopians. And although he mentions the Alëian Plain and the Arimi,4 he is silent as to the tribe to which both belong. Such a test of the poet, therefore, is false; but the test is true only when it is shown that some false statement is made by him. But Apollodorus has not been proved correct in this case either, I mean when he was bold enough to say that the "proud Hippemolgi" and "Galactophagi" were fabrications of the poet. So much for Apollodorus. I now return to the part of my description that comes next in order.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1877)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (4 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: