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XVII.2

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Geography

of
Strabo

published in Vol. VIII
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,
1932

The text is in the public domain.

This text has not yet been proofread.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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(Vol. VIII) Strabo
Geography

p155 Book XVII Chapter 3

1 (824) Next let me describe Libya, which is the only part left for the completion of my Geography as a whole. Now I have said much about this country before,276 but I must now comment also on other matters in so far as they may be timely, adding what has not been said before. Now the writers who have divided the inhabited world according to continents have divided it unequally, for the threefold division indicates a division into three equal parts; but Libya lacks so much of being a third part of the inhabited world that even if it were combined with Europe it would seem not to be equal to Asia. Perhaps it is even smaller than Europe; and in power it is much inferior, for the greater part of the interior and of its ocean-coast is desert, and it is dotted with settlements that are small, scattered, and mostly nomadic; and in addition to its deserts, its being a nursery of wild beasts drives out people even from land that could be inhabited; 825 and it overlaps a considerable part of the torrid zone. However, the whole of the coast opposite to us, I mean that between the Nile and the Pillars, and particularly the part which was subject to the Carthaginians, is settled and prosperous; but here too some parts here and there are destitute of water, as, for example, in the regions about the Syrtes, the Marmaridae,277 and Catabathmus.

Libya has the shape of a right-angled triangle, conceived of as drawn on a plane surface, having as base the coast opposite us, from Aegypt and the p157Nile to Maurusia and the Pillars, and as the side perpendicular to this that which is formed by the Nile as far as Aethiopia and by me produced to the ocean, and as the side subtending the right angle the whole of the coast between the Aethiopians and the Maurusians. Now as for the part at the very vertex of the above-mentioned foregoing, which begins approximately with the torrid zone, I speak only from conjecture, because it is inaccessible, although in a previous part of my work278 I have said thus much, that, as one goes southward from Alexandria to Meroê, the royal seat of the Aethiopians, the distance is about ten thousand stadia, and from there in a straight line to the boundaries between the torrid zone and the inhabited world three thousand more. At any rate, the same should be put down as the maximum breadth of Libya, I mean thirteen or fourteen thousand stadia, and a little less than double that sum as the length. This, then, is my account of Libya as a whole, but I must describe it in detail, beginning with its western, or more famous, parts.

2 Here dwell a people whom the Greeks call Maurusians, and the Romans and the natives Mauri — a large and prosperous Libyan tribe, who live on the side of the strait opposite Iberia. Here also is the strait which is at the Pillars of Heracles, concerning which I have often spoken. On proceeding outside the strait at the Pillars, with Libya on the left, one comes to a mountain which the Greeks call Atlas and the barbarians Dyris. From this mountain projects p159a farthermost spur, as it were, towards the west of Maurusia — the Coteis, as it is called; and near by is a small town above the sea which the barbarians call Tinx,279 though Artemidorus has given it the name Lynx and Eratosthenes Lixus.280 It is situated across the strait opposite Gadeira281 at a distance of eight hundred stadia, which is about the distance of each of the two places from the strait at the Pillars. To the south of Lixus and the Coteis lies a gulf called the Emporicus282 Gulf, 826 which contains settlements of Phoenician merchants. Now the whole of the coast continuous with this gulf is indented by gulfs, but one should exclude from consideration the gulfs and the projections of land, in accordance with the triangular figure which I have suggested, and conceive rather of the continent as increasing in extent in the direction of the south and east.283 The mountain,284 which extends through the middle of Maurusia from the Coteis to the Syrtes, is inhabited, both itself and other mountains that run parallel with Maurusia, at first by the Maurusians but deep in the interior by the largest of the Libyan tribes, who are called Gaetulians.

3 The historians, beginning with The Circumnavigation of Ophelas,285 have added numerous other fabrications in regard to the outside coast of Libya; and these I have already mentioned somewhere before,286 but I am again speaking of them, asking pardon for introducing marvellous stories, if perchance p161I shall be forced to digress into a thing of that sort, since I am unwilling wholly to pass them over in silence and in a way to cripple my history. Now they say that the Emporicus Gulf has a cave which at the full tides admits the sea inside it for a distance of even seven stadia, and that in front of this gulf there is a low, level place containing an altar of Heracles, which, they say, is never inundated by the tide — and it is this that I regard as one of their fabrications. And nearly as bad as this is the statement that on the gulfs which come next after the Emporicus Gulf there were ancient settlements of Tyrians, now deserted — no fewer than three hundred cities, which were destroyed by the Pharusians and the Nigritae; and these people, they say, are at a distance of a thirty day's journey from Lynx.

4 However, it is agreed by all that Maurusia is a fertile country, except a small desert part, and is supplied with both lakes and rivers. It is surpassing in the size and in the number of its trees, and is also productive of everything; at any rate, this is the country which supplies the Romans with the tables that are made of one single piece of wood, very large and most variegated. The rivers are said to contain crocodiles, as also other kinds of animals similar to those in the Nile. Some think that even the sources of the Nile are near the extremities of Maurusia. And they say that in a certain river are found leeches287 seven cubits long, with gills pierced through with holes, through which they breathe. They also say of this country that it produces a vine so thick that it can hardly be encircled by the arms of two men, and that it yields clusters of p163about one cubit;288 and that every herb grows high, and every vegetable, as, for example, arum and dracontium;289 and the stalks of the staphylini290 and the hippomarathi291 and the scolymi292 grow twelve cubits high and four palms thick. 827 And for serpents, also, and elephants and gazelles and bubali293 and similar animals, as also for lions and leopards, the country is a nurse in every way. It also produces ferrets294 equal in size to cats, and like them, except that their noses project further; and also a very great number of apes, concerning which Poseidonius states that, when he was sailing from Gadeira to Italy, he was carried close to the Libyan coast and saw on a low-lying shore a forest full of these animals, some in the trees and others on the ground, and some having young and suckling them; that he fell to laughing, however, when he saw some with heavy udders, some with bald heads, and others ruptured or displaying other disabilities of that kind.

5 Above Maurusia, on the outside sea, lies the country of the western Aethiopians, as they are called, a country for the most part poorly settled. Here too, according to Iphicrates,295 are found camelopards, elephants, and the rhizeis,296 as they are called, which are like bulls in their form, but like elephants in their manner of living and their p165size and their courage in fighting. And he speaks of serpents so large that even grass grows upon the backs; and says that the lions attack the young of the elephants, but, after they have drawn blood, flee when the mothers approach, and that the mothers, when they see their young stained with the blood, kill them, and that the lions return to the victims and eat them. And he says that Bogus, the king of the Maurusians, when he went up against the western Aethiopians, sent down to his wife as gifts reeds like those of India, of which each joint held eight choenices,297 and also asparagus of similar size.

6 As one sails into the inner sea from Lynx, one comes to the city Zelis and to Tinx; and then to the Monuments of the Seven Brothers298 and to the mountain that lies above them, Abilê by name, which abounds in wild animals and large trees. The length of the strait at the Pillars is said to be one hundred and twenty stadia, and the minimum breadth, measured at Elephas, sixty. On sailing into the sea, one comes next to several cities and rivers — to the Molochath299 River, which forms the boundary between the lands of the Maurusians and the Masaesylians. Near the river lies a large promontory, and also Metagonium, a waterless and barren place; and I might almost say that the mountain which begins at the Coteis extends as far as this; and its length from the Coteis to the boundaries of the Masaesylians p167is five thousand stadia. Metagonium is about opposite New Carthage,300 on the other side of the sea, but Timosthenes wrongly says that it is opposite Massalia.301 828 The passage across from New Carthage to Metagonium is three thousand stadia, and the coasting-voyage to Massalia is over six thousand.

7 Although the most of the country inhabited by the Maurusians is so fertile, yet even to this time most of the people persist in living a nomadic life. But nevertheless they beautify their appearance by braiding their hair, growing beards, wearing golden ornaments, and also by cleaning their teeth and paring their nails. And only rarely can you see them touch one another in walking, for fear that the adornment of their hair may not remain intact. Their horsemen any mostly with a javelin, using bridles made of rush, and riding bareback; but they also carry daggers. The foot-soldiers hold before them as shields the skins of elephants, and clothe themselves with the skins of lions, leopards, and bears, and sleep in them. I might almost say that these people, and the Masaesylians, who live next after them, and the Libyans in general, dress alike and are similar in all other respects, using horses that are small but swift, and so ready to obey that they are governed with a small rod. The horses wear collars made of wood302 or of hair, to which the rein is fastened, though some follow even without being led, like dogs. These people have small shields made of raw-hide, small spears with broad heads, wear ungirded tunics with wide borders, and, as I have said, use skins as mantles and shields. p169The Pharusians and Nigretes303 who live above these people near the western Aethiopians also use bows, like the Aethiopians; and they also use scythe-bearing chariots. The Pharusians mingle only rarely even with the Maurusians when passing through the desert since they carry skins of water fastened beneath the bellies of their horses. Sometimes, however, they come even to Cirta, passing through certain marshy regions and over lakes. Some of them are said to live like Troglodytes, digging homes in the earth. And it is said that here too the summer rains are prevalent, but that in winter there is a drought, and that some of the barbarians in this part of the world use also the skins of snakes and fish both as wraps and as bed-covers. And the Maurusians304 are said by some to be the Indians who came thither with Heracles. Now a little before my time the kings of the house of Bogus and of Bocchus, who were friends of the Romans, possessed the country, but when these died Juba succeeded to the throne, Augustus Caesar having given him this in addition to his father's empire. He was the son of the Juba who with Scipio waged war against the deified Caesar. Now Juba died lately,305 but his son Ptolemy, whose mother was the daughter of Antony and Cleopatra, has succeeded to the throne.

8 829 Artemidorus disputes the view of Eratosthenes because the latter calls a certain city in the neighbourhood p171of western extremities of Maurusia "Lixus" instead of Lynx; and because he calls "Phoenician" a very great number of rased cities of which no trace is to be seen;306 and because, after calling the air among the western Aethiopians "salty,"307 he says that the air is thick and misty in the hours both of early morning and of evening. For, argues Artemidorus, how can these things be in a region that is arid and torrid? But he himself gives a much worse account of the same region, for he tells a story of certain migrants, Lotophagi,308 who roam the waterless country and feed on lotus, a kind of plant and root, from eating which they have no need of drink; and that they extend as far as the region above Cyenê; but that those in that region also drink milk and eat meat, although they are in the same latitude. And Gabinius also, the Roman historian, does not abstain from telling marvellous stories of Maurusia; for example, he tells a story of a tomb of Antaeus near Lynx, and a skeleton sixty feet in length, which, he says, Sertorius exposed to view, and then covered again with earth.309 And he tells fabulous stories about the elephants; for example, he says that whereas the other animals flee from fire, the elephants carry on war with it and defend themselves against it, because it destroys the timber, and that they engage in battle with human beings, sending out scouts before them, and that when they see them fleeing, they flee too, and that when they p173receive wounds, as suppliants they hold out branches of a tree or an herb or dust.

9 After the land of the Maurusians, one comes to that of the Masaesylians, which takes its beginning at the Molochath River and ends at the promontory which is called Tretum, the boundary between the lands of the Masaesylians and the Masylians. The distance from Metagonium to Tretum is six thousand stadia, though some say less. The coast has several cities and rivers and is a goodly territory, but it is sufficient to mention only those of renown. At a distance of one thousand stadia from the above-mentioned boundaries is Siga, which was the royal residence of Sophax, though it is now in ruins. After Sophax the country was possessed by Masanasses, and then by Micipsas, and then by his successors, and in my time by Juba, the father of the Juba who recently died. Zama, his royal residence, has also been laid in ruins by the Romans. After Siga, and at a distance of six hundred stadia, one comes to Theon Limen;310 and then to the other, insignificant, places. Now the parts deep in the interior311 are indeed mountainous and desert (sometimes they are interspersed with habitations and these parts are held by the Gaetulians),312 even as far as the Syrtes, but the p175parts there near the sea consist of fertile plains, many cities, rivers, and lakes.

10 830 I do not know whether Poseidonius tells the truth when he says that Libya is intersected by rivers "only few and small"; for merely the rivers mentioned by Artemidorus, those between Lynx and Carthage, are by him called "both many and large."313 This statement can be made more truthfully in regard to the interior of the country; and he himself314 states the cause of this, saying that "no rain falls in the northern parts," as is also said to be the case in Aethiopia, and therefore pestilences often ensue because of droughts, and the lakes are filled with mud, and the locust is prevalent. And he further says that "the eastern regions are moist, for the sun passes quickly when it is rising, whereas the western regions are arid, for there it turns back."315 For regions are called moist and arid, partly in proportion to abundance or scarcity of waters, and partly in proportion to that of the sun's rays; but Poseidonius means to speak only of the effects of the sun's rays; and these effects are by all writers defined by latitude, north or south; and indeed both the eastern and western regions, when spoken of which reference to the habitations of man, vary according to each several habitation and the change in their horizons, so that it is also impossible to make a general assertion in regard to places whose number passes all comprehension that the eastern are moist and the western arid; but since such statements are made with reference to the inhabited p177world as a whole and to such extremities of it as India and Iberia, perhaps he could make such a statement. What plausibility, however, can there be in his explanation of the cause? For in the revolution of the sun, which is continuous and unintermitting, what "turning back" could there be? And further, the speed of the sun's transit is everywhere equal. Besides, it is contrary to the evidence316 to call the extremities of Iberia or Maurusia, I mean the extremities on the west, the most arid places in the world, for they not only have a temperate atmosphere but also are well supplied with numerous waters. But if the "turning back" of the sun is interpreted in this way, that there it is last above the inhabited world, wherein does this contribute to aridity? For there, as well as in the other places of the inhabited world that are in the same latitude, the sun leaves an equal interval of night, and comes back again and warms the earth.

11 Somewhere here317 there are also copper mines and a spring of asphalt; and writers speak also of a multitude of scorpions, both winged and wingless, which in size are heptaspondylic,318 and likewise of tarantulas319 which are exceptional both in size and in number; and lizards which are said to be two cubits long. Now on the mountain-side320 are said to be found the "Lychnite"321 and Carthaginian p179stones,322 as they are called, and, in the plains, oyster-shells and mussel-shells in great quantities, like those mentioned by me in my description of Ammon.323 831 And there is also a tree called melilotus,324 from which they prepare a wine. And some of the people have land that produces two crops of grain, reaping two harvests, one in spring and the other in summer; and the stalk is five cubits in height, has the thickness of the little finger, and yields a crop 240‑fold. In the spring they do not even sow seed, but harrow the ground lightly with bundles of paliuri,325 and are satisfied with the seed-grain that has fallen out of the ear at the time of the harvest; for this products a perfect summer crop. On account of the number of wild animals326 they work with legging on and also clothe the rest of their bodies with skins. And when they lie down to sleep, they smear the feet of their beds with garlic and tie a bunch of paliuri around them, on account of the scorpions.a

12 On this coast was a city named Iol, which Juba, the father of Ptolemy, rebuilt, changing its name to Caesareia; it has a harbour, and also, in front of the harbour, a small island. Between Caesareia and Tretum is a large harbour called Salda, which is now a boundary between the territories subject to Juba and the Romans; for the divisions of the country have been made in various ways, inasmuch as its occupants have been several p181in number and the Romans have dealt with them in different ways at different times, treating some as friends and others as enemies, the result being that different parts were taken away from, or presented to, different peoples, but not in the same way. The country towards Maurusia not only produced more revenue but was also more powerful, whereas that towards Carthage and the Masylians was both more flourishing and better built up, although it had been put in a bad plight, first, on account of the Carthaginian Wars, and then on account of the war against Jugurtha; for he took by siege Adarbal, a friend of the Romans, at Itycê327 and slew him, and thus filled all Libya with war; and then wars on wars broke out, and, last of all, the war that broke out between the deified Caesar and Scipio, in which even Juba was killed; and with the leaders the cities were wiped out too, I mean Tisiäus, Vaga, and Thala, as also Capsa, the treasure-hold of Jugurtha, and Zama, and Zincha, and those cities near which the deified Caesar defeated Scipio, first winning a victory over him near Ruspinum, and then near Uzita, and then near Thapsus and the lake near by, and the other cities. And near by also are Zella and Acholla, free cities. And Caesar captured at the first onset the island Cercinna, and Thena, a town on the coast. Of all these, some were utterly wiped out and the others left half-destroyed; but Phara was burned by Scipio's cavalry.

p183 13 832 Now after Tretum one comes to the land of the Masylians, and to the land of the Carthaginians, which is similar thereto. Cirta, the royal residence of Masanasses and his successors, is in the interior; it is very strongly fortified and has been beautifully built up in every way, particularly by Micipsas, who not only settled a colony of Greeks in it, but also made it so great that it could send forth ten thousand cavalry and twice as many infantry. Cirta, then, is here, and so are the two Hippos, one near Itycê and the other farther away, rather towards Tretum; and both are royal residences. Itycê was second only to Carthage in size and importance, and when Carthage was destroyed, that city served the Romans as a metropolis, and as a base of operations for their activities in Libya. It is situated in the same gulf as Carthage, near one of the two promontories which form the gulf, of which the one near Itycê is called Apollonium and the other Hermaea; and the two cities are in sight of one another. Near Itycê flows the Bagradas River. The distance from Tretum to Carthage is two thousand five hundred stadia. But neither this distance nor that to the Syrtes is generally agreed upon.

14 Carthage, also, is situated on a kind of peninsula, which comprises a circuit of three hundred and sixty stadia; and this circuit has a wall; and sixty stadia of the length of this circuit are occupied by the neck itself, which extendº from sea to p185sea; and this, a spacious place, is where the Carthaginians had their elephant-stalls. Near the middle of the city was the acropolis, which they called Byrsa;328 it was a fairly steep height and inhabited on all sides, and at the top it had a temple of Asclepius, which, at the time of the capture of the city, the wife of Asdrubal burnt along with herself. Below the acropolis lie the harbours, as also Cothon, a circular isle surrounded by a strait, which latter has ship-houses all round on either side.329

15 Carthage was founded by Dido, who brought a host of people from Tyre. The colonisation proved to be so fortunate an enterprise for the Phoenicians, both this at Carthage and that which extended as far as Iberia — I mean the part of Iberia outside the Pillars as well as the rest of it — that even to this day the best part of continental Europe and also the adjacent islands are occupied by Phoenicians; and they also gained possession of all that part of Libya which men can live in without living a nomadic life. From this dominion they not only raised their city to be a rival of Rome, but also waged three great wars against the Romans. Their power might become clearly evident from the last war, in which they were defeated by Scipio Aemilianus and their city was utterly wiped out. 833 For when they began the wage this war they had three hundred cities in Libya and seven hundred thousand people in their city; and when they were being besieged and were forced to resort to surrender, they gave up two hundred thousand full p187suits of armour and three thousand330 catapults, on the assumption that they would not be engaged in war again; but when they resolved to renew the war, they suddenly organised the manufacture of arms, and each day produced one hundred and forty finished shields, three hundred swords, five hundred spears, and one thousand missiles for the catapults; and the women-servants furnished their hair for the catapults. Furthermore, although from fifty years back they had possessed only twelve ships, in accordance with the treaty made at the second war, they then, although they had already fled together for refuge into the Byrsa, built one hundred and twenty decked ships in two months; and since the mouth of the Cothon was being guarded, they dug another mouth through and their fleet sallied forth unexpectedly; for old timber had been stored away in readiness, and a large number of skilled workmen, maintained at public expense, had been lying in wait for this occasion. But though Carthage was so resourceful, still it was captured and rased to the ground. As for the country, the Romans proclaimed one part of it a Province, I mean the part which had been subject to the Carthaginians, and appointed as sovereign of the other part Masanasses, as also his descendants, the house of Micipsas;331 for Masanasses was held in very high respect among the Romans because of his valour and friendship; and indeed it was he who transformed the Nomads into citizens and farmers, and taught them to be soldiers instead of brigands. For a peculiar thing had happened p189in the case of these people, although they lived in a country blest by nature, except for the fact that it abounded in wild animals, they would forbear to destroy these and thus work the land in security, and would turn against one another, abandoning the land to the wild animals. In this way it came to pass that they kept leading a wandering and migratory life, no less so than peoples who are driven by poverty and by wretched soil or climate to resort to this kind of life; so that the Masaesylians have obtained this as their special designation, for they are called nomades.332 Such people of necessity must lead a frugal life, being more often root-eaters than meat-eaters, and using milk and cheese for food. Be that as it may, Carthage for a long time remained desolate, about the same length of time as Corinth,333 but it was restored again at about the same time as Corinth by the deified Caesar, who sent thither as colonists such Romans as preferred to go there and some soldiers; and now it is as prosperous a city as any other in Libya.

16 834334 Opposite the middle of the mouth of the Carthaginian Gulf is Corsura,335 an island. Across the arm of the sea, opposite this region, is that part of Sicily wherein lies Lilybaeum, at a distance of about one thousand five hundred stadia; for the distance from Lilybaeum to Carthage is said to be as great as this. Not far distant from Corsura, p191nor yet from Sicily, are Aegimuros336 and other islands. The voyage from Carthage across to the nearest point of the opposite mainland337 is sixty stadia, from which the journey inland to Nepheris is one hundred and twenty stadia — a city fortified by nature and built upon a rock. But on the same gulf as that on which Carthage is situated lies a city Tynis,338 as also hot springs and stone-quarries; and then one comes to the rugged promontory Hermaea, and to a city on it bearing the same name; and then to Neapolis; and then to a promontory Taphitis, and to a hill on it, which, from the resemblance, is called Aspis;339 this is the hill that Agathocles, the tyrant of Sicily, colonised at the time when he sailed against the Carthaginians. But these cities were demolished by the Romans at the same time as Carthage. At a distance of four hundred stadia from Taphitis lies an island Cossurus,340 opposite the Selinus River in Sicily, and a city bearing the same name, which is one hundred and fifty stadia in circuit and is about six hundred stadia distant from Sicily; and there is also an island Melithê341 and the island Cossurus.342 Then one comes to a city Adrymes,343 there was also a naval arsenal; and then to the Taricheiae, as they are called, which are numerous small islands lying close together; and then to a city Thapsus; and after this to Lopadussa, an island in the open sea; and then to a promontory p193of Ammon Balithon, near which is a place for watching for the tunny-fish;344 and then to a city Thena, which lies near the beginning of the Little Syrtis. In the interval lie numerous small towns not worth mentioning. Near the beginning of the Syrtis lies a long island, Cercinna, which is rather large and contains a city of the same name; and there is another smaller island, Cercinnitis.

17 Continuous with these is the Little Syrtis, which is also called the Syrtis of the Lotus-eaters. The circuit of this gulf is one thousand six hundred stadia, and the breadth of the mouth six hundred; and at each of the two promontories which form its mouth are islands close to the mainland — the Cercinna above-mentioned and Meninx, which are about equal in size. Meninx is regarded as the land of the Lotus-eaters mentioned by Homer; and certain tokens of this are pointed out — both an altar of Odysseus and the fruit itself; for the tree which is called the lotus abounds in the island, and its fruit is delightful. There are several towns on Meninx, and one of them bears the same name as the island. 835 On the coast of the Syrtis itself are several small towns. In the recess of the gulf is a very large emporium, which has a river that empties into the gulf; and the effects of the flow and ebb of the tides extend thus far, at which times the neighbouring inhabitants rush forth on the run to catch the fish.

18 After the Syrtis, one comes to Zuchis, a lake p195with a circuit of four hundred stadia; it has a narrow entrance, and near it is a city bearing the same name which contains dye-factories and all kinds of fish-salting establishments; and then to another lake, which is much smaller; and after this to a city Abrotonum and to several others; and contiguous to these is Neapolis, which is also called Leptis; and from here the passage across to the Epizephyrian Locrians is three thousand six hundred stadia. Next in order one comes to a river;345 and afterwards to a kind of cross-wall which the Carthaginians built, wishing to bridge over some gorges which extend up into the interior. There are also some harbourless regions here, although the rest of the coast has harbours. Then one comes to a lofty, wooded promontory, which forms the beginning of the Great Syrtis and is called Cephalae;346 and the distance to this promontory from Carthage is a little more than five thousand stadia.

19 Above the coast-line which extends from Carthage to Cephalae and to the land of Masaesylians lies the land of the Libo-Phoenicians, which extends to the mountainous country of the Gaetulians, where Libya347 begins. The land above the Gaetulians is that of the Garamantes, which lies parallel to the former and is the land whence the Carthaginian stones are brought.348 The Garamantes are said to be distant from the Aethiopians who live on the ocean a nine or ten days' journey, and from Ammon fifteen. Between the Gaetulians and our seaboard349 there p197are not only many plains, but also many mountains, large lakes, and rivers, some of which sink beneath the earth and become invisible. The inhabitants are very simple in their modes of life and in their dress; but the men have many wives and many children, and in other respects are like the nomadic Arabians; and both horses and cattle have longer necks than those of other countries. Horse-breeding is followed with such exceptional interest by the kings that the number of colts every year amounts to one hundred thousand. The sheep are brought up on milk and meats, particularly in the regions near Aethiopia. Such is my account of the interior.

20 The Great Syrtis has a circuit of about three thousand and nine hundred and thirty stadia, and a diameter, to the inmost recess, of one thousand five hundred stadia, and also a breadth at the mouth of about one thousand five hundred. The difficulty with both this Syrtis and the Little Syrtis 836 is that in many places their deep waters contain shallows, and the result is, at the ebb and the flow of the tides, that sailors sometimes fall into the shallows and stick there, and that the safe escape of a boat is rare. On this account sailors keep at a distance when voyaging along the coast, taking precautions not to be caught off their guard and driven by winds into these gulfs. However, the disposition of man to take risks causes him to try anything in the world, and particularly voyages along coasts. Now as one sails into the Great Syrtis, on the right, after Cephalae is passed, one comes to a lake about three hundred stadia in length and seventy in breadth, which empties into the gulf and contains both small islands p199and a mooring place in front of its mouth. After the harbour one comes to a place called Aspis,350 and to the finest harbour in the Syrtis. Continuous with this is the Euphrantas Tower, the boundary between the former country of the Carthaginians and the Cyrenaean country as it was under Ptolemy;351 and then one comes to another place, called Charax, which the Carthaginians used as an emporium, taking wine thither and in exchange receiving loads of silphium-juice and silphium from merchants who brought them clandestinely from Cyrenê; and then to the Altars of the Philaeni; and after these to Automala, a stronghold which has a garrison and is situated at the inmost recess of the whole gulf. The parallel of latitude through this gulf is a little more to the south than that through Alexandria, one thousand stadia, and than that through Carthage, less than two thousand stadia; but it would coincide with the parallel which passes through the Heroönpolis situated on the recess of the Arabian Gulf and through the interior of the countries of the Masaesylians and the Maurusians. The remainder of the coast from here on to the city Berenicê is one thousand five hundred stadia in length. Lying inland above this stretch of coast, and extending even as far as the Altars of the Philaeni, is the country of the Nasamones, as they are called, a Libyan tribe. In the intervening distance there are only a few harbours; and the watering-places are scarce. There is, however, a promontory called Pseudo-penias, on which Berenicê is situated, near a certain lake, Tritonias, in which the principal things p201are an isle and on it a temple of Aphroditê. In this region are also the harbour352 of the Hesperides and the river Lathon which empties into it. Farther inside353 than Berenicê lies the small promontory called Boreium, which with Cephalae forms the mouth of the Syrtis. Berenicê lies opposite the promontories of the Peloponnesus, opposite Ichthys, as it is called, and also opposite Zacynthos, the distance across being three thousand six hundred354 stadia. Setting out from this city Marcus Cato travelled round the Syrtis by land in thirty days,355 leading an army of more than ten thousand men, having separated them into divisions on account of the scarcity of watering-places and he travelled on foot in deep sand and scorching heat. After Berenicê one comes to a city Taucheira, which is also called Arsinoê; and then to a city formerly called Barcê, but now Ptolemaïs; 837 and then to a promontory Phycus, which is low-lying and projects farthest towards the north as compared with the rest of the Libyan coast; it lies opposite Taenarum in Laconia, the distance across being two thousand and eight hundred stadia; and there is also a small town which bears the same name as the promontory. Not far distant from Phycus is the naval station of the Cyrenaeans, Apollonia, about one hundred and seventy stadia from Phycus, one thousand from Berenicê, and eighty from Cyrenê, a large city situated in a trapezium-shaped plain, as it looked to me from the sea.

p203 21 Cyrenê was founded by colonists from Thera, a Laconian island, which in ancient times was called Callistê, as Callimachus says: "Callistê was its first name, but its later name was Thera, mother of my fatherland, famed for its good horses." The naval station of the Cyrenaeans lies opposite the western promontory of Crete, Criumetopon, the distance across being two thousand stadia. The voyage is made with Leuconotus.356 Cyrenê is said to have been founded by Battus;357 and Callimachus asserts that Battus was his ancestor. Cyrenê grew strong because of the fertility of its territory, for it is excellent for the breeding of horses and produces beautiful fruit, and it had many men who were noteworthy and who were able to defend its liberty in a noteworthy manner and to resist strongly the barbarians who lived above them. Now in ancient times the city was independent; and then the Macedonians, who had taken possession of Aegypt, grew in power and attacked the Cyrenaeans, under the leadership of Thibron and his associates, who had slain Harpalus; and having been ruled by kings for some time the city came under the power of the Romans and is now joined with Crete into one Province. But Apollonia, Barcê, Taucheira, Berenicê, and the other towns near by, are dependencies of Cyrenê.

22 Bordering on Cyrenaea is the country which produces silphium and the Cyrenaean juice, which latter is produced by the silphium through the extraction of its juice. But it came near giving out when the barbarians invaded the country because p205of some grudge and destroyed the roots of the plant. The inhabitants are nomads. The Cyrenaeans who became famous were Aristippus the Socratic philosopher, who also laid the foundations of the Cyrenaïc philosophy; and his daughter, Aretê by name, who succeeded him as head of the school; and again her son Aristippus, Aretê's successor, who was called Mêtrodidactus;358 and Anniceris, who is reputed to have revised the doctrines of the Cyrenaïc sect and to have introduced in place of it those of the Annicerian sect. Callimachus, also, was a Cyrenaean, and Eratosthenes, 838 both of whom were held in honour by the Aegyptian kings, the former being a poet and at the same time a zealous student of letters, and the latter being superior, not only in these respects, but also in philosophy, and in mathematics, if ever a man was. Furthermore, Carneades, who by common agreement was the best of the Academic philosophers, and also Apollonius Cronus, were from Cyrenê, the latter being the teacher of Diodorus the Dialectician, who also was given the appellation "Cronus," certain persons having transferred the epithet of the teacher to the pupil. After Apollonia one comes to the remainder of the coast of the Cyrenaeans, which extends as far as Catabathmus, a distance of two thousand two hundred stadia; the coasting-voyage is not at all easy, for there are but few harbours, mooring-places, settlements, and watering-places. Among the places along the coast that are best known are Naustathmus and Zephyrium, which has anchorage, and a second Zephyrium, and a promontory Cherronesus, which has a harbour. This p207promontory lies opposite Cyclus359 in Crete; and the distance across is one thousand five hundred stadia if one has a south-west wind; and then one comes to a kind of temple of Heracles, and, above it, to a village called Paliurus; and then one comes to a harbour, Menelaüs, and to Ardanis, which is a low-lying promontory with a mooring-place; and then to a large harbour, opposite which lies the Cherronesus in Crete, the interval between the two places being about two360 thousand stadia; indeed, I might almost say that Crete as a whole, being narrow and long, lies opposite, and parallel, to this coast. After the large harbour one comes to another harbour, which is called Plynus, and above it lies Tetrapyrgia;361 but the place is called Catabathmus; and Cyrenaea extends thus far. The remaining part of the coast, extending to Paraetonium and thence to Alexandria, I have already mentioned in my account of Egypt.

23 The country lying deep in the interior above the Syrtis and Cyrenaea, a barren and arid region, is occupied by the Libyans: first by the Nasamones, and then by the Psyllians and certain Gaetulians, and then by the Garamantes, and, still more towards the east, by the Marmaridae, who border to a greater extent on Cyrenaea and extend as far as Ammon. Now it is said that persons going on foot from the recess of the Great Syrtis, from about the neighbourhood of Automala, approximately in the p209direction of winter sunrise,362 arrive at Augilab on the fourth day. This region resembles Ammon, being productive of palm-trees and also well supplied with water. It lies above Cyrenaea to the south, and for a distance of one hundred stadia produces trees, but for another hundred the land is only sown, although, on account of its aridity, the land does not grow rice.363 Above this region is the country which produces silphium; and then one comes to the uninhabited country and to that of the Garamantes. 839 The country which produces silphium is narrow, long, and somewhat arid, extending in length, as one goes approximately towards the east, about one thousand stadia, and in breadth three hundred or a little more, at least that part which is known; for we may conjecture that all lands lying in unbroken succession on the same parallel of latitude are similar as regards both climate and plants, but since several deserts intervene, we do not know all these regions. Similarly, the regions above Ammon and the oases as far as Aethiopia are likewise unknown. Neither can we tell the boundaries either of Aethiopia or of Libya, nor yet accurately even those of the country next to Aegypt, much less of that which borders on the Ocean.

24 This, then, is the lay of the different parts of our inhabited world; but since the Romans occupy p211the best and the best known portions of it, having surpassed all former rulers of whom we have record, it is worth while, even though briefly, to add the following account of them. Now I have already stated364 that, setting out with only one city, Rome, the Romans acquired the whole of Italy through warfare and statesmanlike rulership, and that, after Italy, by exercising the same superior qualities, they also acquired the regions round about Italy. And of the continents, being three in number, they hold almost the whole of Europe, except that part of it which lies outside the Ister365 River and the parts along the ocean which lie between the Rhenus366 and the Tanaïs367 Rivers. Of Libya, the whole of the coast on Our Sea is subject to them; and the rest of the country is uninhabited or else inhabited only in a wretched or nomadic fashion. In like manner, of Asia also, the whole of the coast on our Sea is subject to them, unless one takes into account the regions of the Achaei and the Zygi and the Heniochi,368 who live a piratical and nomadic life in narrow and sterile districts; and of the interior and the country deep inland, one part is held by the Romans themselves and another by the Parthians and the barbarians beyond them; and on the east and north live Indians and Bactrians and Scythians, and then369 Arabians and Aethiopians; the some further portion is constantly being taken from these peoples and added to the possessions of the Romans. Of this whole country that is subject to the Romans, some parts are indeed ruled by kings, but the Romans retain others themselves, calling them Provinces, and send to them praefects and collectors of tribute. But there are also some free cities, p213of which some came over to the Romans at the outset as friends, whereas others were set free by the Romans themselves as a mark of honour. There are also some potentates and phylarchs370 and priests subject to them. Now these live in accordance with certain ancestral laws.

25 840 But the Provinces have been divided in different ways at different times, though at the present time they are as Augustus Caesar arranged them; for when his native land committed to him the foremost place371 of authority and he became established as lord for life of war and peace, he divided the whole of his empire into two parts, and assigned one portion to himself and the other to the Roman people; to himself, all parts that had need of a military guard (that is, the part that was barbarian and in the neighbourhood of tribes not yet subdued, or lands that were sterile and difficult to bring under cultivation, so that, being unprovided with everything else, but well provided with strongholds, they would try to throw off the bridle and refuse obedience), and to the Roman people all the rest, in so far as it was peaceable and easy to rule without arms; and he divided each of the two portions into several Provinces, of which some are called "Provinces of Caesar" and the others "Provinces of the People." And to "Provinces of Caesar" Caesar sends legati372 and procurators, dividing the countries in different ways at different times and administering them as the occasion requires, whereas to the "Provinces of the People" the people send praetors or proconsuls, and these Provinces also are brought under different divisions whenever expediency requires. But at the outset p215Caesar organised the Provinces of the People by creating, first, two consular provinces; I mean (1) Libya, in so far as it was subject to the Romans, except the part which was formerly subject to Juba and is now subject to Ptolemy his son, and (2) the part of Asia that lies this side the Halys River and the Taurus, except the countries of the Galatians and of the tribes which had been subject to Amyntas, and also of Bithynia and the Propontis; and, secondly, ten praetorial provinces, first, in Europe and the islands near it, I mean (1) Iberia Ulterior, as it is called, in the neighbourhood of the Baetis and Anas373 Rivers, (2) Narbonitis in Celtica, (3) Sardo374 together with Cyrnus,375 (4) Sicily, (5 and 6) Macedonia and, in Illyria, the country next to Epeirus, (7) Achaea as far as Thessaly and Aetolia and Acarnania and certain Epeirotic tribes which border on Macedonia, (8) Crete along with Cyrenaea, (9) Cypros, and (10) Bithynia along with the Propontis and certain parts of the Pontus. But the rest of the Provinces are held by Caesar; and to some of these he sends as curators men of consular rank, to others men of praetorian rank, and to others men of the rank of knights. Kings, also, and potentates and decarchies are now, and always have been, in Caesar's portion.


The Editor's Notes:

276 2.3.4, and 2.4.3.

277 See § 23 following.

278 1.4.2.

279 The same as Tingis (3.1.8).

280 Strabo is confusing Tingis (now Tangier)º with Lynx or Lixus (now El Araisch or Larasch); see § 8 following.

281 Cadiz.

282 i.e. "Mercantile."

283 i.e. this side forms the hypotenuse and runs in a south-easterly direction.

284 Atlas.

285 Ophelas of Cyrenê (Diodorus Siculus 18.21, 20.40‑42, and Plutarch, Demetrius 14); see critical note.

286 1.1.5, and 3.2.13.

287 They meant leech-fish, i.e. lampreys.

288 They meant in length, apparently, and not in circumference (cp. 2.1.14 and 11.10.1.

289 Apparently Arum maculatum (cuckoo-pint) and Dracunculus (cp. Pliny24.91‑92 and Theophrastus 1.6.6, 7.12.2).

290 A kind of carrot or parsnip.

291 i.e. horse-fennel.

292 An edible kind of thistle.

293 Apparently the antelope bubalis.

294 Cp. 3.2.6.

295 Possibly a copyist's error for "Hypsicrates" (see Vol. III, p245, note 2).

296 i.e. animals with noses "like roots"; perhaps the writer quoted meant the rhinoceros, but elsewhere (16.4.15) Strabo himself uses the word "rhinoceros."

297 About a gallon and a half.

298 The seven "Monuments" or mountain-peaks.

299 Now the Mulujah.

300 Now Cartagena.

301 Now Marseilles.

302 i.e. of tree-wool.

303 Apparently a copyist's error for "Nigritae" (the spelling in 2.5.33, 16.4.37 and 17.3.3).

Thayer's Note: There is no "16.4.37" in Strabo, nor have I been able to find any reference to the Nigritae, under any spelling, anywhere in Book XVI.

304 Apparently an error for "Pharusians" (see Sallust, Jugurtha, 18, Pomponius Mela, 3.10, Pliny, 5.8, and critical note).

305 About A.D. 19.

306 See § 3 (above).

307 The usual meaning of the Greek adjective is "broad" or "flat"; but Eratosthenes must have used it in the sense of "salty."

308 Lotus-eaters.

309 So Plutarch (Sertorius 9).

310 "Gods' Harbour."

311 See 17.3.2 (end).

312 The text of the passage in parentheses is doubtful (see critical note).

313 The text is corrupt. Strabo probably wrote merely this: "for Artemidorus calls them many and large" (see critical note).

314 Poseidonius.

315 Thus slowing down in making the turn back, as should be interprets it.

316 One MS. reads "actuality" instead of "evidence" (see critical note).

317 i.e. in Masaesylia.

318 i.e. they have "seven vertebrae" (the Pandinus heros); see critical note, and cp. 15.1.37.

319 Cp. 16.4.12.

320 Cp. §19 following.

321 i.e. "Luminous" stones; apparently a tourmaline.

322 A carbunculus (see Pliny, 37.25 and 30).

323 1.3.4.

324 i.e. "honey-lotus." Strabo calls the melilotus a "tree," both here and in §17 following, but other writers (e.g. Theophrastus, 9.40, 49) apply the name to a kind of clover.

325 A kind of thorny shrub (Rhamnus paliurus).

326 i.e. reptiles in particular, apparently.

327 i.e. "Utica." But Sallust (Jug. 25‑26) says "Cirta."

328 "Hide."

329 i.e. both on the island and on the mainland.

330 See critical note.

331 i.e. the three sons: Micipsas king, Golossa head of the department of war, and Mastanaba head of the department of justice (Appian, § 106).

332 "Nomades" ("Nomads") is the Greek name corresponding to the Latin "Numidae" ("Numidians").

333 Corinth was destroyed by L. Mummius in 146 B.C., but was restored by Julius Caesar and Augustus.

334 This passage, "Opposite . . . other islands," is ejected from the text by Meineke (see critical note).

335 "Corsura," unless it is here confused in some way with Cossura (Pantellaria), is otherwise unknown.

336 Al Djamur.

337 i.e. apparently the eastern side of the Carthaginian Gulf.

338 Tunis, or Tunes, was situated to the south of Carthage and at the head of a vast marshy lagoon.

339 i.e. "Shield."

340 The same, apparently as Cossura (cp. 2.5.19 and 6.2.11).

341 Malta.

342 See preceding footnote.

343 Also called Adrumetum.

344 Cp. 5.2.6, 8.

345 The Cinifo.

346 "Heads."

347 i.e. the true Libya, as distinguished from Libo-Phoenicia.

348 See 17.3.11.

Thayer's Note: Modern research has considerably expanded our knowledge of the Garamantes; see the interesting (and illustrated) page at Livius.

349 i.e. the Mediterranean seaboard.

350 i.e. "shield."

351 See 17.1.5.

352 Some would emend "Harbour" to "Lake" (see critical note).

353 i.e. inside the Syrtis, towards the south (see Map XV, end of vol.).

354 Cp. 10.2.18.

355 In 47 B.C., on his march to join Metellus Scipio.

356 A south wind (see 1.2.21).

357 About 631 B.C.

358 i.e. "Mother-taught."

359 "Cyclus" is doubtful (see critical note).

360 The MSS. read "three" (see critical note).

361 i.e. "Four Towers."

362 See Vol. I, p105.

363 One major MS. reads "roots" instead of "rice" (see critical note).

364 6.4.2.

365 Danube.

366 Rhine.

367 Don.

368 See 11.2.12.

369 i.e. on the south.

370 i.e. "tribal chiefs."

371 In Latin principatus.

372 During office called "propraetors."

373 "Anas" is a correction for "Atax," the Atax being the present Aude in France.

374 Sardinia.

375 Corsica.


Thayer's Notes:

a An old trick, apparently: when I was a kid in the Niger — on the other shore, so to speak, of the same desert — we'd set the feet of our beds in little coasters with a bit of gasoline.

b Today's Awjila; see the photoillustrated page at Livius.

Page updated: 21 Sep 12