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p296 Clima

Article by Philip Smith, B.A., of the University of London
on pp296‑297 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

CLIMA (κλίμα), literally a slope or inclination, was used in the mathematical geography of the Greeks1 with reference to the inclination of various parts of the earth's surface to the plane of the equator. Before the globular figure of the earth was known, it was supposed that there was a general slope of its surface from south to north, and this was called κλίμα. But as the science of mathematical geography advanced, the word was applied to different belts of the earth's surface, which were determined by the different lengths of the longest day at their lines of demarcation. This division into climates was applied only to the northern hemisphere, as the geographers had no practical knowledge of the earth south of the equator.

Hipparchus (about B.C. 160) seems to have been the first who made use of this division; his system is explained at length by p132). Assuming the circumference of a great circle of the earth to be 252,000 stadia, Hipparchus divided this into 360 degrees, of 700 stadia to each; and then, beginning at the parallel of Meroë, and proceeding northwards, he undertook to describe the astronomical phenomena observed at each degree of latitude, or every 700 stadia; among these phenomena, he observed that the length of the longest day at Meroë was 13 hours, and at Syene 13½. The observations of later astronomers and geographers, such as Geminus, Strabo, Pliny, and Ptolemy, are described in the works cited below. The following table, from Ukert, shows the climates, as given by Ptolemy (Geogr. I.23). It will be observed that there are nineteen climates, the beginning and middle of which are marked by lines called parallels, of which the first marks the equator, and the thirty-third the arctic circle. Up to this point, there are sixteen climates, of which twelve are determined by the increase of half-an‑hour in the length of the longest day, the 13th and 14th 1 hour, and the 15th and 16th 2 hours. In the remaining climates, within the arctic circle, the days no longer increase by hours but by months. Elsewhere (Almag. II.6) he makes ten climates north of the equator, beginning at the parallel of Taprobane in lat. 4°15, and ending at that of Thule, in lat. 63°; and one to the south, beginning at the equator, or the parallel of Cape Raptum, and ending at the parallel of Antimeroë in lat. 16°25.

The term κλίμα was afterwards applied to the average temperature of each of these regions, and hence our modern use of the word. (Strab. l.c.;º Dion Hal. I.9; Plut. Mar. 11, Aem. Paul. 5, Moral. p891; Polyb. VII.6 § 1, X.1 § 3;a Ath. XII. p523C; Gemin. Elem. Astron. 5; Plin. H. N. II.70‑75, s73‑77; Agathem. I.3; Cellar. Geog. I.6; Ukert, Geog. vol. I pt. 2, pp182, &c.).

p297
Climate
Parallel
Longest Day
Latitude
Passing through
I.
1
12h  0m
12h 15
  0°  0
  4° 15

Taprobane.
II.
3
12h 30
12h 45
  8° 25
12° 30
Sinus Avalites.
Adule Sinus.
III.
5
13h  0
13h 15
16° 27
20° 14
Meroë.
Napata.
IV.
7
13h 30
13h 45
23° 51
27° 12
Syene.
Ptolemais in Egypt.
V.
9
14h  0
14h 15
30°  2
33° 18
Lower Egypt.
Middle of Phoenicia.
VI.
11
14h 30
14h 45
36°  0
38° 35
Rhodus.
Smyrna.
VII.
13
15h  0
15h 15
40° 56
43° 41
Hellespont.
Massilia.
VIII.
15
15h 30
15h 45
45°  1
46° 51
Middle of the Euxine.
Sources of the Danube.
IX.
17
16h  0
16h 15
48° 32
50°  4
Middle of the Borysthenes.
Middle of the Palus Maeotis.
X.
19
16h 30
16h 45
51° 40
52° 50
Southern Britain.
Mouths of the Rhine.
XI.
21
17h  0
17h 15
54° 30
55°  0
Mouths of the Tanaïs.
The Brigantes in Britain.
XII.
23
17h 30
17h 45
56°  0
57°  0
Britannia Magna.
Caturactonium in Britain.
XIII.
25
18h  0
18h 30
58°  0
59° 30
South of Britannia Parva.
Middle of ditto
XIV.
27
19h  0
19h 30
61°  0
62°  0
North of ditto
Ebudes Insulae.
XV.
29
20h  0
21h  0
63°  0
64° 30
Thule.
Unknown Scythian Tribes.
XVI.
31
22h  0
23h  0
65° 30
66°  0
Unknown Scythian Tribes.
XVII.
33
24h  0m
1 month, about
66°  8 40
67° 15
XVIII.
35
2 months, about
3 months, about
69° 30
73° 20
XIX.
37
4 months, about
5 months, about
6 months, about
78° 20
84°  0
90°  0

The Author's Note:

1 The corresponding Latin word is inclinatio (Vitruv. I.1), also declinatio, devergentia (comp. Aul. Gell. XIV.1; Colum. III.1). Clima was only used at a late period.


Thayer's Note:

a Plut. Mar. 11, Aem. Paul. 5, Polyb. VII.6 § 1, X.1 § 3: Since these texts are online only in English translations, it's only fair to quote the Greek here:

In Plutarch's Life of Marius: Εἰσὶ δὲ οἳ τὴν Κελτικὴν διὰ βάθος χώρας καὶ μέγεθος ἀπὸ τῆς ἔθω θαλάσσης καὶ τῶν ὑπαρκτίων κλιμάτων πρὸς ἥλιον ἀνίσχοντα . . .

In his Life of Aemilius Paulus, οἱ δὲ νῦν ἀδελφοὶ καὶ συγγενεῖς, ἂν μὴ κλίμασι καὶ ποταμοῖς καὶ διατειχίσμασιν ὁρίσωσι τὰ κοινὰ πολλὴν εὐρυχωρίαν ἐν μέσῳ λάβωσιν ἀπ᾽ ἀλλήλων, οὐ παύονται διαφερόμενοι.

In Book VII of Polybius, Ἡ γὰρ τῶν Λεοντίνων τῷ μὲν ὅλῳ κλίματι τέτραπται πρὸς τὰς ἄρκτους. . . .

In Book X of Polybius, Βρέττιοι γὰρ καὶ Λευκανοὶ καί τινα μέρη τῶν Δαυνίων, ἔτι δὲ Καλαβροὶ καὶ πλείους ἕτεροι τοῦτο τὸ κλίμα νέμονται τῆς Ἰταλίας:

The passages in Polybius, by my lights, use κλίμα in a rather general way; I would not have cited them for the purposes of this article, and agree with Prof. Paton's translations of the emphasized words, "as regards its general position" and "this side of Italy".


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