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Implausibility of Pytheas's Geography

In treating of the geography of Europe I shall say nothing of the ancient geographers, but shall confine my attention to their modern critics, Dicaearchus, Eratosthenes, who is the most recent writer on geography, and Pytheas, who has misled many readers by professing to have traversed on foot the whole of Britain, the coastline of which island, he says, is more than forty thousand stades. And again by his stories of Thule and the countries in its neighbourhood, "in which," he says, "there is neither unmixed land or sea or air, but a kind of compound of all three (like the jelly-fish or Pulmo Marinus), in which earth and sea and everything else are held in suspense, and which forms a kind of connecting link to the whole, through which one can neither walk nor sail." This substance, which he says is like the Pulmo Marinus, he saw with his own eyes, the rest he learnt by report.
Cadiz to the Don.
Such is Pytheas's story, and he adds that, on his return thence, he traversed the whole of the coast of Europe from Gades to the Tanais. But we cannot believe that a private person, who was also a poor man, should have made such immense journeys by land and sea. Even Eratosthenes doubted this part of his story, though he believed what he said about Britain, and Gades, and Iberia. I would much rather believe the Messenian (Euhemerus) than him. The latter is content with saying that he sailed to one country which he calls Panchaia;1 while the former asserts that he has actually seen the whole northern coast of Europe up to the very verge of the world, which one would hardly believe of Hermes himself if he said it. Eratosthenes calls Euhemerus a Bergaean,2 yet believes Pytheas, though Dicaearchus himself did not.3 . . . Eratosthenes and Dicaearchus give mere popular guesses as to distances.

1 Panchaia or Panchēa, the fabulous island or country in the Red Sea or Arabian gulf, in which Euhemerus asserted that he had discovered the inscriptions which proved the reputed gods to have been famous generals or kings. Plutarch, Is. et Osir. 23, Diodor. fr. 6. 1. The Roman poets used the word as equivalent to "Arabian." See Verg. Georg. 2, 139.

2 That is "as great a liar as Antiphanes of Berga." See below. Strabo classes Antiphanes with Pytheas and Euhemerus more than once (see 2, 3, 5). Hence came the verb βεργάζειν, "to tell travellers' tales" (Steph. Byz.). But there is considerable doubt as to the identification of the traveller Antiphanes, some confounding him with a comic poet of the same name, and others with the author of an essay περὶ ἑταιρῶν. Berga was in the valley of the Strymon.

3 Strabo here protests against Dicaearchus being treated as a standard of geographical truth. For Pytheas see Appendix.

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