[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
mail:
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Click here for the text in ancient Greek.]
Ἑλληνική

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]
Italiano

[Link to a series of help pages]
Help
[Link to the next level up]
Up
[Link to my homepage]
Home

[image ALT: link to previous section]
I.4

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Geography

of
Strabo

published in Vol. I
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,
1917

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


[image ALT: link to next section]
II.1.20‑38

(Vol. I) Strabo
Geography

p253 Book II Chapter 1

1 (67) In the Third Book of his Geography Eratosthenes, in establishing the map of the inhabited world, divides it into two parts by a line drawn from west to east, parallel to the equatorial line; and as ends of this line he takes, on the west, the Pillars of Heracles, on the east, the capes and most remote peaks of the mountain-chain that forms the northern boundary of India. He draws the line from the Pillars through the Strait of Sicily and also through the southern capes both of the Peloponnesus and of Attica, and as far as Rhodes and the Gulf of Issus. Up to this point, then, he says, the said line runs through the sea and the adjacent continents (and indeed our whole Mediterranean Sea itself extends, lengthwise, along this line as far as Cilicia); 68then the line is produced in an approximately straight course along the whole Taurus Range as far as India, for the Taurus stretches in a straight course with the sea that begins at the Pillars, and divides all Asia lengthwise into two parts, thus making one part of it northern, the other southern; so that in like manner both the Taurus and the Sea from the Pillars up to the Taurus lie on the parallel of Athens.

p255 2 After Eratosthenes has said that, he thinks he must needs make a complete revision of the early geographical map; for, according to it, he says, the eastern portions of the mountains deviate considerably towards the north, and India itself is drawn up along with it, and comes to occupy a more northerly position than it should. As proof of this he offers, first, an argument to this effect: the most southerly capes of India rise opposite to1 the regions about Meroë, as many writers agree, who judge both from the climatic conditions and from the celestial phenomena; and from the capes on to the most northerly regions of India at the Caucasus Mountains, Patrocles (the man who has particular right to our confidence, both on account of his worthiness of character and on account of his being no layman in geographical matters) says the distance is fifteen thousand stadia; but, to be sure, the distance from Meroë to the parallel of Athens is about that distance; and therefore the northerly parts of India, since they join the Caucasus Mountains,2 come to an end in this parallel.

3 Another proof which he offers is to this effect: the distance from the Gulf of Issus to the Pontic Sea is about three thousand stadia, if you go towards the north and the regions round about Amisus and Sinope, a distance as great as that which is also assigned to the breadth of the mountains; and from Amisus, if you bear towards the equinoctial sunrise, you come first to Colchis; and then you come to the passage which takes you over to the Hyrcanian3 Sea, and to the road next in order that leads to Bactra p257and to the Scythians on beyond, keeping the mountains on your right; and this line, if produced through Amisus westwards, runs through the Propontis and the Hellespont; and from Meroë to the Hellespont is not more than eighteen thousand stadia, a distance as great as that from the southern side of India to the parts round about the Bactrians, if we added three thousand stadia to the fifteen thousand, some of which belonged to the breadth of the mountains, the others to that of India.

4 As for this declaration of Eratosthenes, Hipparchus contradicts it by throwing discredit on the proofs. In the first place, says he, Patrocles is not trustworthy, since two men bear testimony against him, both Deïmachus and Megasthenes, 69who say that in some places the distance from the southern sea is twenty thousand stadia and in other places even thirty thousand; so these two men, at least, make such a statement, and the early maps agree with them. It is an incredible thing, of course, he thinks, that we have to trust Patrocles alone, in disregard of those whose testimony is so strong against him, and to correct the early maps throughout as regards the very point at issue, instead of leaving them as they are until we have more trustworthy information about them.

5 Now I think this reasoning of Hipparchus is open to censure on many grounds. In the first place, although Eratosthenes used many testimonies, he says that Eratosthenes uses only one — that of Patrocles. Who, pray, were the men that affirmed that the southern capes of India rose opposite to the regions of Meroë? And who the men that said the distance from Meroë up to the parallel of Athens p259was such a distance? And who, again, the men that gave the breadth of the Taurus Mountains, of the men that called the distance from Cilicia to the Amisus the same as that of this breadth? And who said as regards the distance from Amisus, through Colchis and Hyrcania up to Bactria and through the regions beyond Bactria which reach down to the eastern sea, that it was in a straight line and toward the equinoctial east and that it was alongside the mountains which you keep on your right hand? Or, again, as regards the distance towards the west in a straight course with this line, that it was towards the Propontis and the Hellespont? Why, Eratosthenes takes all these as matters actually established by the testimony of the men who had been in the regions, for he has read many historical treatises — with which he was well supplied if he had a library as large as Hipparchus says it was.4

6 Further, the trustworthiness of Patrocles, itself, rests upon many testimonies; I refer to the Kings5 who had entrusted to him such an important office; to the men who followed him, to the men who oppose him, whom Hipparchus himself names; for the tests to which those men are subjected are but proofs of the statements of Patrocles. Neither does this statement of Patrocles lack plausibility, namely, that those who made the expedition with Alexander acquired only cursory information about everything, but Alexander himself made accurate investigations, since the men best acquainted with the country had described the whole of it for him; and this description was later presented to p261Patrocles (so Patrocles says) by Xenocles, Alexander's treasurer.

7 Hipparchus further says, in his Second Book, that Eratosthenes himself throws discredit on the trustworthiness of Patrocles, in consequence of Patrocles' disagreement with Megasthenes about the length of India on its northern side, which Megasthenes calls sixteen thousand stadia, whereas Patrocles affirms that it is a thousand short of that; for, having started from a certain "Itinerary" as basis, Eratosthenes distrusts both of them on account of their disagreement 70and holds to the "Itinerary." If, then, says Hipparchus, Patrocles is untrustworthy on account of the disagreement at that point, although the discrepancy is only a matter of a thousand stadia, how much more should we distrust him where the discrepancy is a matter of eight thousand stadia, as against two men, and that, too, men who agree with one another; for both of them call the breadth of India twenty thousand stadia, whereas Patrocles calls it twelve thousand?

8 My answer will be that it was not the bare disagreement with Megasthenes that Eratosthenes found fault with, but he found fault when he compared their disagreement with the harmony and trustworthiness of the "Itinerary." Yet we should not be surprised if one thing proves to be more trustworthy than another trustworthy thing, and if we trust the same man in some things, but distrust him in others, whenever greater certainty has been established from some other source. Again, it is ridiculous to think that the amount by which the authorities disagree makes the parties to the disagreement less trustworthy. Why, on p263the contrary, this is more likely to be the case where the matter of disagreement is slight; for if the matter of disagreement is but slight, error is more likely to result, not merely among ordinary writers, but even among writers who are somewhat superior to the other class; but where the matters of disagreement are considerable, though the ordinary man would go astray, the more scientific man would be less likely to do so, and for that reason he is more quickly trusted.

9 However, all who have written about India have proved themselves, for the most part, fabricators, but preëminently so Deïmachus; the next in order is Megasthenes; and then, Onesicritus, and Nearchus, and other such writers, who begin to speak the truth, though with faltering voice. I, too, had the privilege of noting this fact extensively when I was writing the "Deeds of Alexander."6 But especially do Deïmachus and Megasthenes deserve to be distrusted. For they are the persons who tell us about the "men that sleep in their ears," and the "men without mouths," and "men without noses"; and about "men with one eye," "men with long legs," "men with fingers turned backward"; and they revived, also, the Homeric story of the battle between the cranes and the "pygmies," who, they say, were three spans tall. These men also tell about the ants that mine gold and Pans with wedge-shaped heads; and about snakes that swallow oxen and stags, horns and all; and in these matters the one refutes the other, as is stated by Eratosthenes also. For although they p265were sent on an ambassadorial mission to Palimbothra (Megasthenes to Sandrocottus, Deïmachus to Allitrochades the son of Sandrocottus), still, as memoirs of their stay abroad, they have left behind such writings as these, being prompted to do so by — I know not what cause! Patrocles, however, is by no means that sort of man. And also the other witnesses whom Eratosthenes has used are not lacking in credibility.

10 7 For instance, if the meridian through Rhodes and Byzantium has been correctly drawn, then that through Cilicia and Amisus will have been correctly drawn too; for from many observations the parallel relation of lines is obvious whenever it is proved by test that there is no meeting 71in either direction.8

11 Again, that the voyage from Amisus to Colchis lies in the direction of the equinoctial east9 is proved by the winds, by the seasons, by the crops, and by the risings of the sun themselves; and thus, in the same way, both the pass that leads over to the Caspian Sea and the road from there on to Bactra. For in many cases the way things appear to the sight and the agreement of all the testimony are more trustworthy than an instrument.10 Indeed, even the same Hipparchus, in taking the line from the Pillars on to Cilicia to be in a straight course and to be in the direction of the equinoctial east, did p267not depend wholly on instruments and geometrical calculations, but for the whole line from the Pillars on to the Strait11 he trusted the sailors. So that this statement of his is not good, either, where he says: "Since we cannot tell either the relation of the longest to the shortest, or of gnomon to shadow, along the mountain-side that runs from Cilicia on to India, neither can we say whether the slant of the mountains lies in a parallel line,12 but we must leave the line uncorrected, keep it aslant as the early maps give it." For, in the first place, "cannot tell" is the same thing as to withhold opinion, and the man who withholds opinion also inclines to neither side; but when Hipparchus bids us leave the line as the ancients give it, he inclines to that side. Rather would he be "keeping" the consistent course, if he also advised us not to treat geography at all; for we "cannot tell" in that way13 the positions of the other mountains, either — for instance, the Alps, the Pyrenees, and the Thracian, the Illyrian, and the German Mountains. But who would think the early geographers more trustworthy than those of later times, since in their map-drawing the ancients made all those blunders that Eratosthenes has rightly accused them of and not one of these blunders has been objected to by Hipparchus?

12 Again, the next remarks of Hipparchus are full of great difficulties. For example, see how many absurdities would arise if one should not disallow the p269statement that the southern capes of India rise opposite to14 the regions of Meroë, or the statement that the distance from Meroë to the mouth of the strait at Byzantium is about eighteen thousand stadia, but yet should make the distance from Southern India of the mountains thirty thousand stadia. Why, in the first place, if it be true that the parallel which runs through Byzantium is the same as that which runs through Massilia (as Hipparchus has stated, on the authority of Pytheas), and that the meridian which runs through Byzantium is the same as that through the Borysthenes (which very thing, also, Hipparchus approves), and if he also approves the statement that the distance from Byzantium to the Borysthenes is three thousand seven hundred stadia, 72then this last number would be the number of stadia from Massilia to the parallel that runs through the Borysthenes;15 which parallel, of course, would run through the sea-coast of Celtica, for on going about this number of stadia through Celtica you reach the ocean.16

13 Again, since the Cinnamon-producing Country is the most remote inhabited country towards the south, as we know, and since, according to Hipparchus himself, the parallel that runs through it is the beginning of the temperate zone and of the inhabited world, and is distant from the equator about eight thousand eight hundred stadia; and further, since, as Hipparchus says, the parallel through the Borysthenes is thirty-four thousand stadia distant from the equator, there would remain twenty-five p271thousand two hundred stadia for the distance from the parallel that divides the torrid from the temperate zone to the parallel that runs through the Borysthenes and the sea-coast of Celtica. And yet the voyage from Celtica to the north is nowadays called the remotest voyage to the north; I mean the voyage to Ierne,17 which island not only lies beyond Britain but is such a wretched place to live in on account of the cold that the regions on beyond are regarded as uninhabitable. And Ierne is not farther from Celtica, he says, than five thousand stadia; so that about thirty thousand stadia all told, or perhaps a few more, would represent the breadth of the inhabited world.

14 Well, then, let us pass on to the country that rises opposite to the Cinnamon-producing Country and lies toward the East on the same parallel. This is the region about Taprobane.18 We have strong assurance that Taprobane is a large island in the open, which lies off India to the south. It stretches lengthwise in the direction of Ethiopia for more than five thousand stadia, as they say; and from it, they say, much ivory is brought to the markets of India, and also tortoise-shell and other merchandise. Now if we assign to this island a breadth that is proportional to its length, and if we add thereto the expanse of the sea between it and India, the sum would be a distance of not less than three thousand stadia — as much as the distance from the border of the inhabited world to Meroë — that is, if the capes of India are to rise opposite to Meroë; but it is more plausible to set down still more than three thousand stadia. So if you should add these three thousand p273stadia to the thirty thousand stadia which Deïmachus gives as the distance to the pass that leads over Bactriana and Sogdiana, then all these people would fall outside the inhabited world and the temperate zone. Who, pray, would venture to maintain this, when he hears of men of both ancient and modern times telling about the mild climate and the fertility, first of Northern India, and then of Hyrcania and Aria, and, next in order, of Margiana and Bactriana? For, although all these countries lies next to the northern side of the Taurus Range, 73and although Bactriana, at least, lies close to the pass that leads over to India, still they enjoy such a happy lot that they must be a very long way off from the uninhabitable part of the earth. In Hyrcania, at any rate, they say that the vine produces one metretes19 of wine, the fig-tree sixty medimni20 of figs, the wheat grows again from the waste seed of the stubble-field, bees have their hives in the trees, and honey drips from the leaves; and this is also true of Matiana, a province of Media, and of Sacasene and of Araxene, districts of Armenia. But in the case of the latter districts this is not equally amazing, if it be true that they lie further south than Hyrcania, and are superior to the rest of the country in mildness of climate; but in the case of Hyrcania it is more amazing. And in Margiana, they say, it is oftentimes found that the trunk of the grape-vine can be encircled only by the outstretched arms of two men, and that the cluster of grapes is two cubits long.a And they say that Aria also is similar, but that it even excels in good p275vintage, since there, at all events, the wine actually keeps for three generations in unpitched casks; and that Bactriana, too, which lies on the border of Aria, produces everything except olive-oil.

15 But if all the parts of these regions that are high and mountainous are also cold, we should not be amazed; for even in the southern latitudes the mountains are cold, and in general all high-lying lands, even if they be plateaux, are cold. At any rate, in Cappadocia the regions next to the Euxine are much farther north than those next to the Taurus; but Bagadaonia, an enormous plain which falls between the Argaeus Mountain21 and the Taurus Range, only scantily (if anywhere) produces fruit-trees, although it is three thousand stadia farther south than the Pontic Sea, whereas the suburbs of Sinope and Amisus and the greater part of Phanaroea are planted with olive-trees. And further, the River Oxus, which divides Bactriana from Sogdiana, is so easily navigable, they say, that the Indian merchandise packed over the mountains to it is easily brought down to the Hyrcanian Sea, and thence, on the rivers, to the successive regions beyond as far as the Pontus.22

16 Now what comparable blessings of nature can you find round about the Borysthenes or in the part of Celtica that lies on the ocean, where the grape either does not grow at all, or else does not bear fruit? In the more southern districts of these p277countries, both on the Mediterranean Sea and in the regions about the Bosporus, the vine does bear fruit, but the grapes are small, and the vines are buried during the winter.23 The frosts are so severe at the mouth of Lake Maeotis that, at a certain spot where, in winter time, Mithridates' general conquered the barbarians in a cavalry engagement fought on the ice, he afterwards, in summer time, when the ice had melted, defeated the same barbarians in a naval engagement.24 74And Eratosthenes brings forward, also, the following epigram from the temple of Asclepius at Panticapaeum,25 which was inscribed on the bronze water-jar that had been burst by freezing: "If any man is incredulous in regard to what happens in our country, let him look at this water-jar and know the truth; which, not as a fair offering unto God but as an illustration of our severe winters, has been dedicated by Stratius the priest." Since, therefore, the climatic conditions in the Asiatic regions that I have enumerated are not to be compared even with those at the Bosporus, nay, not even with those at Amisus and Sinope (which places one would call milder in climate than the regions at the Bosporus), those Asiatic regions could hardly be thrown on the same parallel with those about Borysthenes and with the country of the northernmost Celts. In fact, the Asiatic regions could hardly be in the same latitude as the regions about Amisus, Sinope, Byzantium, and Massilia, which are conceded to be thirty-seven hundred stadia farther south than the Borysthenes and the Celts.

p279 17 Now if Deïmachus and his followers add to the thirty thousand stadia the distance to Taprobane and to the boundary of the torrid zone, which must be put at not less than four thousand stadia,26 they will thus be placing both Bactra and Aria outside the inhabited world in the regions that are thirty-four thousand stadia from the torrid zone — the number of stadia Hipparchus gives as the distance from the equator to the Borysthenes. And so Bactria and Aria will be thrown outside into the regions that are eight thousand eight hundred stadia farther north than the Borysthenes and Celtica — the number of stadia by which the equator is south of the circle that divides the torrid zone from the temperate; and this circle we say is drawn, in a general way, through the Cinnamon-producing Country. Now I myself was pointing out that the regions beyond Celtica as far as Ierne were scarcely habitable, and that this distance is not more than five thousand stadia;27 but this argument of Deïmachus declares that there is a habitable parallel of latitude three thousand eight hundred stadia still farther north than Ierne! Thus Bactra will be a very considerable distance farther north than even the mouth of the Caspian (or Hyrcanian) Sea; and this mouth28 is about six thousand stadia distant from the inmost part of the Caspian Sea and from the Armenian and Median mountains (and it seems to be a more northerly point than the coast-line itself that runs thence to India; and to offer a practicable route of p281circumnavigation from India, according to Patrocles, who was once governor of these regions). Accordingly, Bactriana stretches out still farther29 for a thousand stadia toward the north. But the Scythian tribes inhabit a much larger country than Bactriana, on beyond it, and they end at the northern sea;30 75who, though it be as nomads, still manage to live. How, then, if even Bactra itself is thrown outside of the inhabited world, could this distance from the Caucasus up to the northern sea, measured on the meridian line through Bactra, be slightly more than four thousand stadia?31 If these stadia, then, be added to the stadia-reckoning from Ierne to the northern regions,32 they make the total distance through the uninhabitable region, on the stadia-reckoning made through Ierne, seven thousand eight hundred stadia. But if one should leave out the four thousand stadia, at least the very parts of Bactriana that are next to the Caucasus33 will be farther north than Ierne by three thousand eight hundred stadia, and farther north than Celtica and the Borysthenes by eight thousand eight hundred stadia.

18 34 Hipparchus says, at all events, that at the Borysthenes and Celtica, throughout the nights in summer-time, the light of the sun shines dimly, moving round from the west to the east, and at p283the winter solstice the sun ascends at most only nine cubits;35 but that among the people who are six thousand three hundred stadia distant from Massilia (people who live two thousand five hundred stadia north of Celtica, whom Hipparchus assumes still to be Celts, though I think they are Britons) this phenomenon is much more marked; and on the winter days there36 the sun ascends only six cubits, and only four cubits among the people who are distant from Massilia nine thousand one hundred stadia; and less than three cubits among the people who live on beyond (who, according to my argument, would be much farther north than Ierne). But Hipparchus, trusting Pytheas, puts this inhabited country in the regions that are farther south than Britain,37 and says that the longest day there has nineteen equinoctial hours,38 but that the longest day has eighteen hours where the sun ascends only four cubits; and these people,39 he says, are distant from Massilia nine thousand and one hundred stadia; and hence the most southerly of the Britons are more northerly than these people. Accordingly, p285they are either on the same parallel as the Bactrians that live near the Caucasus or on some parallel close to it; for, as I have stated, according to Deïmachus and his followers our result will be that the Bactrians that live near the Caucasus are more northerly than Ierne by three thousand eight hundred stadia; and if these stadia be added to those from Massilia to Ierne, we get twelve thousand five hundred stadia. Now who has ever reported in these regions (I mean the regions about Bactra) such a length of the longest days, or such a meridian height of the sun at the winter solstice? Why, all such phenomena are obvious to the eye even of a layman and do not require mathematical notation; 76so that many men, both of the early writers of Persian history and of their successors down to our own times, could have compiled them. Again, how could the above-mentioned40 happy lot of these regions be conceded to those regions that have such celestial phenomena?41 And so from what I have said it is clear how very cleverly Hipparchus contradicts the demonstration of Eratosthenes on the ground that the latter (although their objects of inquiry are in effect equivalent) were taking the object of inquiry for granted as an aid to his demonstration thereof!42

19 And so, again, where Eratosthenes wishes to show that Deïmachus is a layman and inexperienced p287in such matters. For he says Deïmachus thinks that India lies between the autumnal equinox and the winter tropic,43 and contradicts the statement of Megasthenes that, in the southern parts of India, the Bears set and the shadows fall in the opposite directions,44 asserting that neither phenomenon takes place anywhere in India; and so, says Eratosthenes, when Deïmachus asserts this, he speaks ignorantly, since it is mere ignorance to think that the autumnal equinox differs from the vernal equinox in distance from the tropic, because both the circle45 and the rising of the sun are the same at the equinoxes; and, since the distance between the terrestrial tropic and the equator, between which Deïmachus places India, has been shown in the measurement of the earth to be much less than twenty thousand stadia,46 the result would be, even according to Deïmachus himself, precisely what Eratosthenes thinks, and not what Deïmachus thinks; for if India be twenty, or as much as thirty, thousand stadia in breadth it could not even fall within such a space.47 But if India has the breadth which Eratosthenes himself has given it, then it would fall therein; and that it is also a mark of the same ignorance for Deïmachus to assert that in no part of India do the Bears set or the shadows fall in the opposite directions, since, at any rate, if you proceed only five thousand stadia south from Alexandria the phenomena begin at once to take place. p289So Hipparchus is again not right in correcting Eratosthenes on that statement, because, in the first place, he interprets Deïmachus as saying "the summer tropic" instead of "the winter tropic," and because, in the second place, he thinks we should not use as a source of evidence on mathematics a man who is unversed in astronomy — just as if Eratosthenes were reckoning in the evidence of Deïmachus above that of other men and not merely following a common custom used in replying to men that talk foolishness. For one way of refuting men who contradict foolishly is to shew that the very declaration they make, whatever it may be, pleads our case.


The Editor's Notes:

1 The Greek word meaning "rise opposite to", which Strabo often uses (following Eratosthenes), apparently contains the idea of "lies on the same parallel with the equator."

2 The Indian Caucasus, now Hindu Kush.

3 Caspian.

4 The library at Alexandria.

5 Seleucus I and Antiochus I.

6 Which formed a part of Strabo's Historical Sketches (see footnote on page 46). Both Onesicritus and Nearchus accompanied Alexander. Strabo alludes to his own stay at the Alexandrian Library.

7 Scholars have agreed that something has fallen out of the manuscripts; but the assumption is unnecessary. Strabo here recurs to "the second argument" of Eratosthenes, which was introduced as far back as § 3, and the connection is not at once apparent; but he has just referred to the credibility of "the other witnesses," and, clearly, it was upon "the other witnesses" that Eratosthenes based that "second argument," as is indicated in § 5. Strabo then proceeds, in § 10, to illustrate the credibility of those witnesses by defending Eratosthenes on points wherein they were involved.

8 An echo from Greek geometry.

9 That is, due east.

10 Compare § 35 (below).

11 Of Sicily.

12 That is, whether the line of these mountains, which in the early maps makes an acute angle to the north with a parallel of latitude, should lie on a parallel. Compare § 2 (above).

13 That is, by instruments and geometrical calculations.

14 See footnote on page 254.

15 Strabo frequently refers to the mouth of the Borysthenes as merely "Borysthenes."

16 That is, going toward the north.

17 Ireland.

18 Ceylon.

19 A little less than nine gallons.

20 The medimnus was about a bushel and a half.

21 In Cappadocia; now Mt. Erdjias.

22 According to this statement the Oxus, which now empties into the Aral Lake, flowed into the Caspian Sea. Thence, by the Kur and other rivers, the merchandise was carried to western points. See 11.7.3.

23 That is, to keep them from freezing. See 7.3.18.

24 Strabo refers to battles fought on the Strait of Yenikale, or Kerch, by Neoptolemus, the general of Mithridates the Great (Eupator). Compare 7.3.18.

25 Now Kerch, at the mouth of the Sea of Azov.

26 In § 14 Strabo said "not less than 3,000 stadia."

27 § 13.

28 Strabo thought that the Caspian Sea opened into "the northern sea."

29 That is, beyond the mouth of the Caspian into the uninhabited world. This whole argument against Deïmachus and his school is a reductio ad absurdum.

30 And thus, according to Strabo, they really reach no farther, approximately, than the mouth of the Caspian.

31 The figure of 4,000 is quoted from Deïmachus and his school. Strabo continues to meet them upon their own ground with his favourite form of argument.

32 That is, the 3,800 stadia above-mentioned.

33 Hence, not the Armenian Caucasus. The mountains from Ariana on were also called Caucasus (11.8.1).

34 In connection with this paragraph, read 2.5.34‑43. Strabo finds another "absurdity" (compare § 12).

35 The astronomical cubit was two degrees.

36 At 6,300 stadia north of Marseilles.

37 "This inhabited country" of Hipparchus means the country that is beyond 9,100 stadia north of Marseilles. To Strabo, this country is uninhabited.

38 The solar day is not constant; and so the ancients, being dependent upon the sun-dial, took as a unit the hour computed at the time of an equinox. Hence "equinoctial hour" — a term not used in modern astronomy.

39 That is, at 9,100 stadia north of Marseilles. By comparing this and other passages in Strabo we find that Hipparchus' data were: Borysthenes, 9 cubits, 16 hours; 6,300 stadia north of Byzantium (or Marseilles, which Hipparchus placed in the same latitude as Byzantium), 6 cubits, 17 hours; 9,100 stadia north of Byzantium (or Marseilles), 4 cubits, 18 hours; the "inhabited country" on beyond, less than 3 cubits, 19 hours.

40 Compare §§ 15‑16.

41 4 cubits, 18 hours, etc.

42 The fallacy is that of "begging the question" (petitio principii). On the question of the most northerly latitude of the inhabited world, Eratosthenes and Hipparchus are both wrong in that they place the limit too far north, Strabo thinks. Among other things, they both assume in their reckonings that Marseilles is as far north as Byzantium (Strabo places Marseilles much farther south). Hence the ironical remark, that only with poor grace could Hipparchus meet the demonstration of Eratosthenes by accusing him of begging the question.

43 Strabo's "winter tropic" and "summer tropic" correspond roughly to the tropic of Capricorn and the tropic of Cancer. The former was placed at 24°, at Syene.

44 That is, to the south as well as to the north — which would be true of all points in the torrid zone.

45 The circle in which they each lie is that of the (celestial) equator.

46 Counting 700 stadia to the degree, Eratosthenes' measurement of the earth being 252,000 stadia, the tropic at 24° would be 16,800 stadia from the equator.

47 Between the tropic and the equator.


Thayer's Note:

a But see the translator's footnote on XV.2.14.


[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 19 Sep 12