previous next


The next objection of Hipparchus is likewise false. He attempts to prove that Eratosthenes, in his statement that the route from Thapsacus to the Caspian Gates is 10,000 stadia, gives this as the distance taken in a straight line; such not being the case, as in that instance the distance would be much shorter. His mode of reasoning is after this fashion. He says, ‘According to Eratosthenes, the mouth of the Nile at Canopus,1 and the Cyaneæ,2 are under the same meridian, which is distant from that of Thapsacus 6300 stadia. Now from the Cyaneæ to Mount Caspius, which is situated close to the defile3 leading from Colchis to the Cas- pian Sea, there are 6600 stadia,4 so that, with the exception of about 300 stadia, the distance from the meridian of the Cyaneæ to that of Thapsacus, or to that of Mount Caspius, is the same: and both Thapsacus and Mount Caspius are, so to speak, under the same meridian.5 It follows from this that the Caspian Gates are about equi-distant between Thapsacus and Mount Caspius, but that the distance between them and Thapsacus is much less than the 10,000 stadia mentioned by Eratosthenes. Consequently, as the distance in a right line is much less than 10,000 stadia, this route, which he considered to be in a straight course from the Caspian Gates to Thapsacus, must have been a circumbendibus.’

To this we reply, that Eratosthenes, as is usual in Geography, speaks of right lines, meridians, and parallels to the equator, with considerable latitude, whereas Hipparchus criticizes him with geometrical nicety, as if every line had been measured with rule and compass. Hipparchus at the same time himself frequently deciding as to right lines and parallels, not by actual measurement, but mere conjecture. Such is the first error of this writer. A second is, that he never lays down the distances as Eratosthenes has given them, nor yet reasons on the data furnished by that writer, but from mere assumptions of his own coinage. Thus, where Eratosthenes states that the distance from the mouth of the [Thracian Bosphorus] to the Phasis is 8000 stadia, from thence to Dioscurias 600 stadia,6 and from Dioscurias to Caspius five days' journey, (which Hipparchus estimates at 1000 stadia,) the sum of these, as stated by Eratosthenes, would amount to 9600 stadia. This Hipparchus abridges in the following manner. From the Cyaneæ to the Phasis are 5600 stadia, and from the Phasis to the Caspius 1000 more.7 There fore it is no statement of Eratosthenes that the Caspius and Thapsacus are under the same meridian, but of Hipparchus himself. However, supposing Eratosthenes says so, does it follow that the distance from the Caspius to the Caspian Gates, and that from Thapsacus to the same point, are equal.8

1 Moadieh, the mouth of the river close to Aboukir.

2 Certain little islets at the mouth of the canal of Constantinople, in the Black Sea. These islands want about a degree and a quarter of being under the same meridian as Moadieh.

3 Gosselin remarks, that the defile intended by Strabo, was probably the valley of the river Kur, or the ancient Cyrus, in Georgia; and by Mount Caspius we are to understand the high mountains of Georgia, whence the waters, which fall on one side into the Black Sea, and on the other into the Caspian, take their rise.

4 Gosselin also observes, that on our charts this distance is about 8100 stadia of 700 to a degree. Consequently the difference between the meridian of Thapsacus and that of Mount Caspius is as much as 4° 45′, in place of the 300 stadia, or from 25′ to 26′ supposed by Hipparchus.

5 On the contrary, Mount Caspius is east of the meridian of Thapsacus by about 2500 stadia, of 700 to a degree.

6 Now Iskouriah. Dioscurias, however, is 800 stadia from the Phasis, of 700 to a degree.

7 According to our improved charts, the distance from the meridian of the Cyaneæ to that of the Phasis is 6800 stadia, of 700 to a degree; from the Cyaneæ to Mount Caspius, 8080.

8 The meridian of Mount Caspius is about 2625 stadia nearer the Caspian Gates than that of Thapsacus.

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

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

load focus Greek (1877)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
600 BC (1)
hide References (3 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: