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The present translation of Strabo, the great Geographer of Antiquity, is the first which has been laid before the English public. It is curious that a classic of so much renown and intrinsic value should have remained a comparatively sealed book to this country for so many centuries; yet such is the fact. It is true that the imperfect state of the Greek text, and the difficulty of geographical identification, have always been appalling obstacles; yet, after the acute and valuable labours of Gossellin, Du Theil, Groskurd, and especially of Gustav Cramer of Berlin, (whose text is followed in the present volume,) we might fairly have expected that some English scholar would have ventured to enter the field. But the task, like many in a similar position, has been reserved for the publisher of the Classical Library, and he trusts it will be found conscientiously fulfilled.

The translation was, in the first instance, intrusted to Mr. H. C. Hamilton, whose knowledge of the subject, and familiarity with the various languages concerned, peculiarly fitted him for the undertaking. His official duties, however, added to his anxious examination of every thing which tended to illustrate his author, prevented his proceeding with much speed; and it was only after the lapse of three years that he had reached the end of the sixth book. In the mean time it transpired that Mr. W. Falconer, son of the editor of the Oxford edition of the Greek text, had, after several years of care and attention, produced a very excellent translation, meaning to publish it. Under the circumstances it was deemed advisable to amalgamate the rival undertakings, and it is a source of gratification to the publisher that the respective translators were each so well satisfied with the labours of the other, that they assented readily to his proposal of associating their names.

This is all it seems necessary to state here. In the third volume will be given some account of the life and labours of Strabo, and of the manuscripts and principal editions; also a complete index of the places mentioned in the text, accompanied, where possible, by the modern names.

H. G. B.

[Pg 1]





That geographical investigation is not inconsistent with philosophy.—That Homer gives proof of it throughout his poems.—That they who first wrote on the science have omitted much, or given disjointed, defective, false, or inconsistent accounts.—Proofs and demonstrations of the correctness of this statement, with general heads containing a summary description of the disposition of the whole habitable earth.—Credit to be attached to the probabilities and evident proofs that in many regions the land and sea have been shifted, and exchanged places with each other.


1.1If the scientific investigation of any subject be the proper avocation of the philosopher, Geography, the science of which we propose to treat, is certainly entitled to a high place; and this is evident from many considerations. They who first ventured to handle the matter were distinguished men, Homer, Anaximander the Milesian, and Hecatæus, (his fellow-citizen according to Eratosthenes,) Democritus, Eudoxus, Dicæarchus, Ephorus, with many others, and after these Eratosthenes, Polybius, and Posidonius, all of them philosophers.

Nor is the great learning, through which alone this subject can be approached, possessed by any but a person acquainted with both human and divine things,2 and these attainments constitute what is called philosophy. In addition to its vast importance in regard to social life, and the art of government, Geography unfolds to us the celestial phenomena, acquaints us [Pg 2] with the occupants of the land and ocean, and the vegetation, fruits, and peculiarities of the various quarters of the earth, a knowledge of which marks him who cultivates it as a man earnest in the great problem of life and happiness.

2. Admitting this, let us examine more in detail the points we have advanced.

And first, [we maintain,] that both we and our predecessors, amongst whom is Hipparchus, do justly regard Homer as the founder of geographical science, for he not only excelled all, ancient as well as modern, in the sublimity of his poetry, but also in his experience of social life. Thus it was that he not only exerted himself to become familiar with as many historic facts as possible, and transmit them to posterity, but also with the various regions of the inhabited land and sea, some intimately, others in a more general manner. For otherwise he would not have reached the utmost limits of the earth, traversing it in his imagination.

3. First, he stated that the earth was entirely encompassed by the ocean, as in truth it is; afterwards he described the countries, specifying some by name, others more generally by various indications, explicitly defining Libya,3 Ethiopia, the Sidonians, and the Erembi (by which latter are probably intended the Troglodyte Arabians); and alluding to those farther east and west as the lands washed by the ocean, for in ocean he believed both the sun and constellations to rise and set.

“Now from the gently-swelling flood profound
The sun arising, with his earliest rays,
In his ascent to heaven smote on the fields.”4
“And now the radiant sun in ocean sank,
Dragging night after him o’er all the earth.”5

The stars also he describes as bathed in the ocean.6

[Pg 3] 4. He portrays the happiness of the people of the West, and the salubrity of their climate, having no doubt heard of the abundance of Iberia,7 which had attracted the arms of Hercules,8 afterwards of the Phœnicians, who acquired there an extended rule, and finally of the Romans. There the airs of Zephyr breathe, there the poet feigned the fields of Elysium, when he tells us Menelaus was sent thither by the gods:—

“Thee the gods
Have destined to the blest Elysian isles,
Earth’s utmost boundaries. Rhadamanthus there
For ever reigns, and there the human kind
Enjoy the easiest life; no snow is there,
No biting winter, and no drenching shower,
But Zephyr always gently from the sea
Breathes on them, to refresh the happy race.”9

5. The Isles of the Blest10 are on the extreme west of Maurusia,11 near where its shore runs parallel to the opposite coast of Spain; and it is clear he considered these regions also Blest, from their contiguity to the Islands.

6. He tells us also, that the Ethiopians are far removed, and bounded by the ocean: far removed,—

“The Ethiopians, utmost of mankind,
These eastward situate, those toward the west.”12

[Pg 4] Nor was he mistaken in calling them separated into two divisions, as we shall presently show: and next to the ocean,—

“For to the banks of the Oceanus,
Where Ethiopia holds a feast to Jove,
He journey’d yesterday.”13

Speaking of the Bear, he implies that the most northern part of the earth is bounded by the ocean:

“Only star of those denied
To slake his beams in Ocean’s briny baths.”14

Now, by the “Bear” and the “Wain,” he means the Arctic Circle; otherwise he would never have said, “It alone is deprived of the baths of the ocean,” when such an infinity of stars is to be seen continually revolving in that part of the hemisphere. Let no one any longer blame his ignorance for being merely acquainted with one Bear, when there are two. It is probable that the second was not considered a constellation until, on the Phœnicians specially designating it, and employing it in navigation, it became known as one to the Greeks.15 Such is the case with the Hair of Berenice, and Canopus, whose names are but of yesterday; and, as Aratus remarks, there are numbers which have not yet received any designation. Crates, therefore, is mistaken when, endeavouring to amend what is correct, he reads the verse thus:

Οἶος δ’ ἄμμορός ἐστι λοετρῶν,

replacing οἴη by οἶος, with a view to make the adjective agree [Pg 5] with the Arctic Circle, which is masculine; instead of the Arctic Constellation, which is feminine. The expression of Heraclitus is far more preferable and Homeric, who thus figuratively describes the Arctic Circle as the Bear,—“The Bear is the limit of the dawn and of the evening, and from the region of the Bear we have fine weather.” Now it is not the constellation of the Bear, but the Arctic Circle, which is the limit of the rising and the setting stars.

By the Bear, then, which he elsewhere calls the Wain, and describes as pursuing Orion, Homer means us to understand the Arctic Circle; and by the ocean, that horizon into which, and out of which, the stars rise and set. When he says that the Bear turns round and is deprived of the ocean, he was aware that the Arctic Circle [always] extended to the sign opposite the most northern point of the horizon. Adapting the words of the poet to this view, by that part of the earth nearest to the ocean we must understand the horizon, and by the Arctic Circle that which extends to the signs which seem to our senses to touch in succession the most northern point of the horizon. Thus, according to him, this portion of the earth is washed by the ocean. With the nations of the North he was well acquainted, although he does not mention them by name, and indeed at the present day there is no regular title by which they are all distinguished. He informs us of their mode of life, describing them as “wanderers,” “noble milkers of mares,” “living on cheese,” and “without wealth.”16

7. In the following speech of Juno, he states that the ocean surrounds the earth.

“For to the green earth’s utmost bounds I go,
To visit there the parent of the gods,

Does he not here assert that ocean bounds all its extremities, and does it not surround these extremities? Again, in the [Pg 6] Hoplopœia,18 he places the ocean in a circle round the border of Achilles’ shield. Another proof of the extent of his knowledge, is his acquaintance with the ebb and flow of the sea, calling it “the ebbing ocean.”19 Again,

“Each day she thrice disgorges, and again
Thrice drinks, insatiate, the deluge down.”20

The assertion of thrice, instead of twice, is either an error of the author, or a blunder of the scribe, but the phenomenon is the same, and the expression soft-flowing,21 has reference to the flood-tide, which has a gentle swell, and does not flow with a full rush. Posidonius believes that where Homer describes the rocks as at one time covered with the waves, and at another left bare, and when he compares the ocean to a river, he alludes to the flow of the ocean. The first supposition is correct, but for the second there is no ground; inasmuch as there can be no comparison between the flow, much less the ebb of the sea, and the current of a river. There is more probability in the explanation of Crates, that Homer describes the whole ocean as deep-flowing, ebbing, and also calls it a river, and that he also describes a part of the ocean as a river, and the flow of a river; and that he is speaking of a part, and not the whole, when he thus writes:—

“When down the smooth Oceanus impell’d
By prosperous gales, my galley, once again,
Cleaving the billows of the spacious deep,
Had reach’d the Ææan isle.”22

He does not, however, mean the whole, but the flow of the river in the ocean, which forms but a part of the ocean. Crates [Pg 7] says, he speaks of an estuary or gulf, extending from the winter tropic towards the south pole.23 Now any one quitting this, might still be in the ocean; but for a person to leave the whole and still to be in the whole, is an impossibility. But Homer says, that leaving the flow of the river, the ship entered on the waves of the sea, which is the same as the ocean. If you take it otherwise you make him say, that departing from the ocean he came to the ocean. But this requires further discussion.

8. Perception and experience alike inform us, that the earth we inhabit is an island: since wherever men have approached the termination of the land, the sea, which we designate ocean, has been met with: and reason assures us of the similarity of those places which our senses have not been permitted to survey. For in the east24 the land occupied by the Indians, and in the west by the Iberians and Maurusians,25 is wholly encompassed [by water], and so is the greater part on the south26 and north.27 And as to what remains as yet unexplored by us, because navigators, sailing from opposite points, have not hitherto fallen in with each other, it is not much, as any one may see who will compare the distances between those places with which we are already acquainted. Nor is it likely that the Atlantic Ocean is divided into two seas by narrow isthmuses so placed as to prevent circumnavigation: how much more probable that it is confluent and uninterrupted! Those who have returned from an attempt to circumnavigate [Pg 8] the earth, do not say they have been prevented from continuing their voyage by any opposing continent, for the sea remained perfectly open, but through want of resolution, and the scarcity of provision. This theory too accords better with the ebb and flow of the ocean, for the phenomenon, both in the increase and diminution, is every where identical, or at all events has but little difference, as if produced by the agitation of one sea, and resulting from one cause.

9. We must not credit Hipparchus, who combats this opinion, denying that the ocean is every where similarly affected; or that even if it were, it would not follow that the Atlantic flowed in a circle, and thus continually returned into itself. Seleucus, the Babylonian, is his authority for this assertion. For a further investigation of the ocean and its tides we refer to Posidonius and Athenodorus, who have fully discussed this subject: we will now only remark that this view agrees better with the uniformity of the phenomenon; and that the greater the amount of moisture surrounding the earth, the easier would the heavenly bodies be supplied with vapours from thence.

10. Homer, besides the boundaries of the earth, which he fully describes, was likewise well acquainted with the Mediterranean. Starting from the Pillars,28 this sea is encompassed by Libya, Egypt, and Phœnicia, then by the coasts opposite Cyprus, the Solymi,29 Lycia, and Caria, and then by the shore which stretches between Mycale30 and Troas, and the adjacent islands, every one of which he mentions, as well as those of the Propontis31 and the Euxine, as far as Colchis, and the locality of Jason’s expedition. Furthermore, he was acquainted with the Cimmerian Bosphorus,32 having known the Cimmerians,33 and that not merely by name, but as being familiar with themselves. About his time, or a little before, they had ravaged the whole country, from the Bosphorus [Pg 9] to Ionia. Their climate he characterizes as dismal, in the following lines:—

“With clouds and darkness veil’d, on whom the sun
Deigns not to look with his beam-darting eye,
But sad night canopies the woeful race.”34

He must also have been acquainted with the Ister,35 since he speaks of the Mysians, a Thracian race, dwelling on the banks of the Ister. He knew also the whole Thracian36 coast adjacent thereto, as far as the Peneus,37 for he mentions individually the Pæonians, Athos, the Axius,38 and the neighbouring islands. From hence to Thesprotis39 is the Grecian shore, with the whole of which he was acquainted. He was besides familiar with the whole of Italy, and speaks of Temese40 and the Sicilians, as well as the whole of Spain41 and its fertility, as we have said before. If he omits various intermediate places this must be pardoned, for even the compiler of a Geography overlooks numerous details. We must forgive him too for intermingling fabulous narrative with his historical and instructive work. This should not be complained of; nevertheless, what Eratosthenes says is false, that the poets aim at amusement, not instruction, since those who have treated upon the subject most profoundly, regard poesy in the light of a primitive philosophy. But we shall refute Eratosthenes42 more at length, when we have occasion again to speak of Homer.

[Pg 10]

11. What we have already advanced is sufficient to prove that poet the father of geography. Those who followed in [Pg 11] his track are also well known as great men and true philosophers. The two immediately succeeding Homer, according to Eratosthenes, were Anaximander, the disciple and fellow-citizen of Thales, and Hecatæus the Milcsian. Anaximander [Pg 12]
[Pg 13]
was the first to publish a geographical chart. Hecatæus left a work [on the same subject], which we can identify as his by means of his other writings.

12. Many have testified to the amount of knowledge which this subject requires, and Hipparchus, in his Strictures on Eratosthenes, well observes, “that no one can become really proficient in geography, either as a private individual or as a professor, without an acquaintance with astronomy, and a knowledge of eclipses. For instance, no one could tell whether Alexandria in Egypt were north or south of Babylon, nor yet the intervening distance, without observing the latitudes.43 Again, the only means we possess of becoming acquainted with the longitudes of different places is afforded by the eclipses of the sun and moon.” Such are the very words of Hipparchus.

13. Every one who undertakes to give an accurate description of a place, should be particular to add its astronomical and geometrical relations, explaining carefully its extent, distance, degrees of latitude, and “climate.”44 Even a builder before constructing a house, or an architect before laying out a city, would take these things into consideration; much more should he who examines the whole earth: for such things in a peculiar manner belong to him. In small distances a little deviation north or south does not signify, but when it is the whole circle of the earth, the north extends to the furthest confines of Scythia,45 or Keltica,46 and the south to the extremities of Ethiopia: there is a wide difference here. The case is the same should we inhabit India or Spain, one in the east, the other far west, and, as we are aware, the antipodes47 to each other.

14. The [motions] of the sun and stars, and the centripetal [Pg 14] force meet us on the very threshold of such subjects, and compel us to the study of astronomy, and the observation of such phenomena as each of us may notice; in which too, very considerable differences appear, according to the various points of observation. How could any one undertake to write accurately and with propriety on the differences of the various parts of the earth, who was ignorant of these matters? and although, if the undertaking were of a popular character, it might not be advisable to enter thoroughly into detail, still we should endeavour to include every thing which could be comprehended by the general reader.

15. He who has thus elevated his mind, will he be satisfied with any thing less than the whole world? If in his anxiety accurately to portray the inhabited earth, he has dared to survey heaven, and make use thereof for purposes of instruction, would it not seem childish were he to refrain from examining the whole earth, of which the inhabited is but a part, its size, its features, and its position in the universe; whether other portions are inhabited besides those on which we dwell, and if so, their amount? What is the extent of the regions not peopled? what their peculiarities, and the cause of their remaining as they are? Thus it appears that the knowledge of geography is connected with meteorology48 and geometry, that it unites the things of earth to the things of heaven, as though they were nearly allied, and not separated.

“As far as heaven from earth.”49

16. To the various subjects which it embraces let us add natural history, or the history of the animals, plants, and other different productions of the earth and sea, whether serviceable or useless, and my original statement will, I think, carry perfect conviction with it.

That he who should undertake this work would be a benefactor to mankind, reason and the voice of antiquity agree. The poets feign that they were the wisest heroes who travelled and wandered most in foreign climes: and to be familiar with many countries, and the disposition of the inhabitants, is, according to them, of vast importance. Nestor prides himself [Pg 15] on having associated with the Lapithæ,50 to whom he went, “having been invited thither from the Apian51 land afar.”

So does Menelaus:—

“Cyprus, Phœnicia, Sidon, and the shores
Of Egypt, roaming without hope I reach’d;
In distant Ethiopia thence arrived,
And Libya, where the lambs their foreheads show
With budding horns defended soon as yean’d.”52

Adding as a peculiarity of the country,

“There thrice within the year the flocks produce.”53

And of Egypt:—“Where the sustaining earth is most prolific.”54 And Thebes,

“the city with an hundred gates,
Whence twenty thousand chariots rush to war.”55

Such information greatly enlarges our sphere of knowledge, by informing us of the nature of the country, its botanical and zoological peculiarities. To these should be added its marine history; for we are in a certain sense amphibious, not exclusively connected with the land, but with the sea as well. Hercules, on account of his vast experience and observation, was described as “skilled in mighty works.”56

All that we have previously stated is confirmed both by the testimony of antiquity and by reason. One consideration however appears to bear in a peculiar manner on the case in point; viz. the importance of geography in a political view. For the sea and the earth in which we dwell furnish theatres [Pg 16] for action; limited, for limited actions; vast, for grander deeds; but that which contains them all, and is the scene of the greatest undertakings, constitutes what we term the habitable earth; and they are the greatest generals who, subduing nations and kingdoms under one sceptre, and one political administration, have acquired dominion over land and sea. It is clear then, that geography is essential to all the transactions of the statesman, informing us, as it does, of the position of the continents, seas, and oceans of the whole habitable earth. Information of especial interest to those who are concerned to know the exact truth of such particulars, and whether the places have been explored or not: for government will certainly be better administered where the size and position of the country, its own peculiarities, and those of the surrounding districts, are understood. Forasmuch as there are many sovereigns who rule in different regions, and some stretch their dominion over others’ territories, and undertake the government of different nations and kingdoms, and thus enlarge the extent of their dominion, it is not possible that either themselves, nor yet writers on geography, should be equally acquainted with the whole, but to both there is a great deal more or less known. Indeed, were the whole earth under one government and one administration, it is hardly possible that we should be informed of every locality in an equal degree; for even then we should be most acquainted with the places nearest us: and after all, it is better that we should have a more perfect description of these, since, on account of their proximity, there is greater need for it. We see there is no reason to be surprised that there should be one chorographer57 for the Indians, another for the Ethiopians, and a third for the Greeks and Romans. What use would it be to the Indians if a geographer should thus describe Bœotia to them, in the words of Homer:—

“The dwellers on the rocks
Of Aulis follow’d, with the hardy clans
Of Hyria, Schœnus, Scolus.”58

To us this is of value, while to be acquainted with the Indies [Pg 17] and their various territorial divisions would be useless, as it could lead to no advantage, which is the only criterion of the worth of such knowledge.

17. Even if we descend to the consideration of such trivial matters as hunting, the case is still the same; for he will be most successful in the chase who is acquainted with the size and nature of the wood, and one familiar with the locality will be the most competent to superintend an encampment, an ambush, or a march. But it is in great undertakings that the truth shines out in all its brilliancy, for here, while the success resulting from knowledge is grand, the consequences of ignorance are disastrous. The fleet of Agamemnon, for instance, ravaging Mysia, as if it had been the Trojan territory, was compelled to a shameful retreat. Likewise the Persians and Libyans,59 supposing certain straits to be impassable, were very near falling into great perils, and have left behind them memorials of their ignorance; the former a monument to Salganeus on the Euripus, near Chalcis, whom the Persians slew, for, as they thought, falsely conducting their fleet from the Gulf of Malea60 to the Euripus; and the latter to the memory of Pelorus, who was executed on a like occasion. At the time of the expedition of Xerxes, the coasts of Greece were covered with wrecks, and the emigrations from Æolia and Ionia furnish numerous instances of the same calamity. On the other hand, matters have come to a prosperous termination, when judiciously directed by a knowledge of the locality. Thus it was at the pass of Thermopylæ that Ephialtes is reported to have pointed out to the Persians a pathway over the mountains, and so placed the band of Leonidas at their mercy, and opened to the Barbarians a passage into Pylæ. But passing over ancient occurrences, we think that the late expeditions [Pg 18] of the Romans against the Parthians furnish an excellent example, where, as in those against the Germans and Kelts, the Barbarians, taking advantage of their situation, [carried on the war] in marshes, woods, and pathless deserts, deceiving the ignorant enemy as to the position of different places, and concealing the roads, and the means of obtaining food and necessaries.

18. As we have said, this science has an especial reference to the occupations and requirements of statesmen, with whom also political and ethical philosophy is mainly concerned; and here is an evidence. We distinguish the different kinds of civil government by the office of their chief men, denominating one government a monarchy, or kingdom, another an aristocracy, a third a democracy; for so many we consider are the forms of government, and we designate them by these names, because from them they derive their primary characteristic. For the laws which emanate from the sovereign, from the aristocracy, and from the people all are different. The law is in fact a type of the form of government. It is on this account that some define right to be the interest of the strongest. If, therefore, political philosophy is advantageous to the ruler, and geography in the actual government of the country, this latter seems to possess some little superiority. This superiority is most observable in real service.

19. But even the theoretical portion of geography is by no means contemptible. On the one hand, it embraces the arts, mathematics, and natural science; on the other, history and fable. Not that this latter can have any distinct advantage: for instance, if any one should relate to us the wanderings of Ulysses, Menelaus, and Jason, he would not seem to have added directly to our fund of practical knowledge thereby, (which is the only thing men of the world are interested in,) unless he should convey useful examples of what those wanderers were compelled to suffer, and at the same time afford matter of rational amusement to those who interest themselves in the places which gave birth to such fables. Practical men interest themselves in these pursuits, since they are at once commendable, and afford them pleasure; but yet not to any great extent. In this class, too, will be found those whose main object in life is pleasure and respectability: but these [Pg 19] by no means constitute the majority of mankind, who naturally prefer that which holds out some direct advantage. The geographer should therefore chiefly devote himself to what is practically important. He should follow the same rule in regard to history and the mathematics, selecting always that which is most useful, most intelligible, and most authentic.

20. Geometry and astronomy, as we before remarked, seem absolutely indispensable in this science. This, in fact, is evident, that without some such assistance, it would be impossible to be accurately acquainted with the configuration of the earth; its climata,61 dimensions, and the like information.

As the size of the earth has been demonstrated by other writers, we shall here take for granted and receive as accurate what they have advanced. We shall also assume that the earth is spheroidal, that its surface is likewise spheroidal, and above all, that bodies have a tendency towards its centre, which latter point is clear to the perception of the most average understanding. However we may show summarily that the earth is spheroidal, from the consideration that all things however distant tend to its centre, and that every body is attracted towards its centre of gravity; this is more distinctly proved from observations of the sea and sky, for here the evidence of the senses, and common observation, is alone requisite. The convexity of the sea is a further proof of this to those who have sailed; for they cannot perceive lights at a distance when placed at the same level as their eyes, but if raised on high, they at once become perceptible to vision, though at the same time further removed. So, when the eye is raised, it sees what before was utterly imperceptible. Homer speaks of this when he says,

Lifted up on the vast wave he quickly beheld afar.62

Sailors, as they approach their destination, behold the shore continually raising itself to their view; and objects which had at first seemed low, begin to elevate themselves. Our gnomons, also, are, among other things, evidence of the revolution of the heavenly bodies; and common sense at once shows us, [Pg 20] that if the depth of the earth were infinite,63 such a revolution could not take place.

Every information respecting the climata64 is contained in the “Treatises on Positions.”65

21. Now there are some facts which we take to be established, viz. those with which every politician and general should be familiar. For on no account should they be so uninformed as to the heavens and the position of the earth,66 that when they are in strange countries, where some of the heavenly phenomena wear a different aspect to what they have been accustomed, they should be in a consternation, and exclaim,

“Neither west
Know we, nor east, where rises or where sets
The all-enlightening sun.”67

Still, we do not expect that they should be such thorough masters of the subject as to know what stars rise and set together for the different quarters of the earth; those which have the same meridian line, the elevation of the poles, the signs which are in the zenith, with all the various phenomena which differ as well in appearance as reality with the variations of the horizon and arctic circle. With some of these matters, unless as philosophical pursuits, they should not burden themselves at all; others they must take for granted without searching into their causes. This must be left to the care of the philosopher; the statesman can have no leisure, or very little, for such pursuits. Those who, through carelessness and ignorance, are not familiar with the globe and the circles traced upon it, some parallel to each other, some at right angles to the former, others, again, in an oblique direction; nor yet with the position of the tropics, equator, and zodiac, (that circle through which the sun travels in his course, and by which we reckon the changes of season and the winds,) such persons we caution against the perusal of our work. For [Pg 21] if a man is neither properly acquainted with these things, nor with the variations of the horizon and arctic circle, and such similar elements of mathematics, how can he comprehend the matters treated of here? So for one who does not know a right line from a curve, nor yet a circle, nor a plane or spherical surface, nor the seven stars in the firmament composing the Great Bear, and such like, our work is entirely useless, at least for the present. Unless he first acquires such information, he is utterly incompetent to the study of geography. *So those who have written the works entitled “On Ports,” and “Voyages Around the World,” have performed their task imperfectly, since they have omitted to supply the requisite information from mathematics and astronomy.*68

22. The present undertaking is composed in a lucid style, suitable alike to the statesman and the general reader, after the fashion of my History.69 By a statesman we do not intend an illiterate person, but one who has gone through the course of a liberal and philosophical education. For a man who has bestowed no attention on virtue or intelligence, nor what constitutes them, must be incompetent either to blame or praise, still less to decide what actions are worthy to be placed on record.

23. Having already compiled our Historical Memoirs, which, as we conceive, are a valuable addition both to political and moral philosophy, we have now determined to follow it up with the present work, which has been prepared on the same system as the former, and for the same class of readers, but more particularly for those who are in high stations of life. And as our former production contains only the most striking events in the lives of distinguished men, omitting trifling and unimportant incidents; so here it will be proper to dismiss small and doubtful particulars, and merely call attention to great and remarkable transactions, such in fact as are useful, [Pg 22] memorable, and entertaining. In the colossal works of the sculptor we do not descend into a minute examination of particulars, but look principally for perfection in the general ensemble. This is the only method of criticism applicable to the present work. Its proportions, so to speak, are colossal; it deals in the generalities and main outlines of things, except now and then, when some minor detail can be selected, calculated to be serviceable to the seeker after knowledge, or the man of business.

We now think we have demonstrated that our present undertaking is one that requires great care, and is well worthy of a philosopher.


1. No one can [justly] blame us for having undertaken to write on a subject already often treated of, unless it appears that we have done nothing more than copy the works of former writers. In our opinion, though they may have perfectly treated some subjects, in others they have still left much to be completed; and we shall be justified in our performance, if we can add to their information even in a trifling degree. At the present moment the conquests of the Romans and Parthians have added much to our knowledge, which (as was well observed by Eratosthenes) had been considerably increased by the expedition of Alexander. This prince laid open to our view the greater part of Asia, and the whole north of Europe as far as the Danube. And the Romans [have discovered to us] the entire west of Europe as far as the river Elbe, which divides Germany, and the country beyond the Ister to the river Dniester. The country beyond this to the Mæotis,70 and the coasts extending along Colchis,71 was brought to light by Mithridates, surnamed Eupator, and his generals. To the Parthians we are indebted for a better acquaintance with Hyrcania,72 Bactriana, [Pg 23] 73 and the land of the Scythians74 lying beyond, of which before we knew but little. Thus we can add much information not supplied by former writers, but this will best be seen when we come to treat on the writers who have preceded us; and this method we shall pursue, not so much in regard to the primitive geographers, as to Eratosthenes and those subsequent to him. As these writers far surpassed the generality in the amount of their knowledge, so naturally it is more difficult to detect their errors when such occur. If I seem to contradict those most whom I take chiefly for my guides, I must claim indulgence on the plea, that it was never intended to criticise the whole body of geographers, the larger number of whom are not worthy of consideration, but to give an opinion of those only who are generally found correct. Still, while many are beneath discussion, such men as Eratosthenes, Posidonius, Hipparchus, Polybius, and others of their stamp, deserve our highest consideration.

2. Let us first examine Eratosthenes, reviewing at the same time what Hipparchus has advanced against him. Eratosthenes is much too creditable an historian for us to believe what Polemon endeavours to charge against him, that he had not even seen Athens. At the same time he does not merit that unbounded confidence which some seem to repose in him, although, as he himself tells us, he passed much of his time with first-rate [characters]. Never, says he, at one period, and in one city, were there so many philosophers flourishing together as in my time. In their number was Ariston and Arcesilaus. This, however, it seems is not sufficient, but you must also be able to choose who are the real guides whom it is your interest to follow. He considers Arcesilaus and Ariston to be the coryphæi of the philosophers who flourished in his time, and is ceaseless in his eulogies of Apelles and Bion, [Pg 24] the latter of whom, says he, was the first to deck himself in the flowers of philosophy, but concerning whom one is often likewise tempted to exclaim, “How great is Bion in spite of his rags!”75 It is in such instances as the following that the mediocrity of his genius shows itself.

Although at Athens he became a disciple of Zeno76 of Citium, he makes no mention of his followers; while those who opposed that philosopher, and of whose sect not a trace remains, he thinks fit to set down amongst the [great characters] who flourished in his time. His real character appears in his Treatise on Moral Philosophy,77 his Meditations, and some similar productions. He seems to have held a middle course between the man who devotes himself to philosophy, and the man who cannot make up his mind to dedicate himself to it: and to have studied the science merely as a relief from his other pursuits, or as a pleasing and instructive recreation. In his other writings he is just the same; but let these things pass. We will now proceed as well as we can to the task of rectifying his geography.

First, then, let us return to the point which we lately deferred.

3. Eratosthenes says that the poet directs his whole attention to the amusement of the mind, and not at all to its instruction. In opposition to his idea, the ancients define poesy as a primitive philosophy, guiding our life from infancy, and pleasantly regulating our morals, our tastes, and our actions. The [Stoics] of our day affirm that the only wise man is the poet. On this account the earliest lessons which the citizens of Greece convey to their children are from the poets; certainly [Pg 25] not alone for the purpose of amusing their minds, but for their instruction. Nay, even the professors of music, who give lessons on the harp, lyre, and pipe, lay claim to our consideration on the same account, since they say that [the accomplishments which they teach] are calculated to form and improve the character. It is not only among the Pythagoreans that one hears this claim supported, for Aristoxenus is of that opinion, and Homer too regarded the bards as amongst the wisest of mankind.

Of this number was the guardian of Clytemnestra, “to whom the son of Atreus, when he set out for Troy, gave earnest charge to preserve his wife,”78 whom Ægisthus was unable to seduce, until “leading the bard to a desert island, he left him,”79 and then

“The queen he led, not willing less than he,
To his own mansion.”80

But apart from all such considerations, Eratosthenes contradicts himself; for a little previously to the sentence which we have quoted, at the commencement of his Essay on Geography, he says, that “all the ancient poets took delight in showing their knowledge of such matters. Homer inserted into his poetry all that he knew about the Ethiopians, Egypt, and Libya. Of all that related to Greece and the neighbouring places he entered even too minutely into the details, describing Thisbe as “abounding in doves,” Haliartus, “grassy,” Anthedon, the “far distant,” Litæa, “situated on the sources of the Cephissus,”81 and none of his epithets are without their meaning. But in pursuing this method, what object has he in view, to amuse [merely], or to instruct? The latter, doubtless. Well, perhaps he has told the truth in these instances, but in what was beyond his observation both he and the other writers have indulged in all the marvels of fable. If such be the case the statement should have been, that the poets relate some things for mere amusement, others for instruction; but he affirms that they do it altogether for amusement, without any view to information; and by way of climax, inquires, What can it add to Homer’s worth to be familiar with many [Pg 26] lands, and skilled in strategy, agriculture, rhetoric, and similar information, which some persons seem desirous to make him possessed of. To seek to invest him with all this knowledge is most likely the effect of too great a zeal for his honour. Hipparchus observes, that to assert he was acquainted with every art and science, is like saying that an Attic eiresionè82 bears pears and apples.

As far as this goes, Eratosthenes, you are right enough; not so, however, when you not only deny that Homer was possessed of these vast acquirements, but represent poetry in general as a tissue of old wives’ fables, where, to use your own expression, every thing thought likely to amuse is cooked up. I ask, is it of no value to the auditors83 of the poets to be made acquainted with [the history of] different countries, with strategy, agriculture, and rhetoric, and suchlike things, which the lecture generally contains.

4. One thing is certain, that the poet has bestowed all these gifts upon Ulysses, whom beyond any of his other [heroes] he loves to adorn with every virtue. He says of him, that he

“Discover’d various cities, and the mind
And manners learn’d of men in lands remote.”84

That he was

“Of a piercing wit and deeply wise.”85

He is continually described as “the destroyer of cities,” and as having vanquished Troy, by his counsels, his advice, and his deceptive art. Diomede says of him,

“Let him attend me, and through fire itself
We shall return; for none is wise as he.”86

He himself on his skill in husbandry, for at the harvest [he says],

[Pg 27]

“I with my well-bent sickle in my hand,
Thou arm’d with one as keen.”87

And also in tillage,

“Then shouldst thou see
How straight my furrow should be cut and true.”88

And Homer was not singular in his opinion regarding these matters, for all educated people appeal to him in favour of the idea that such practical knowledge is one of the chief means of acquiring understanding.

5. That eloquence is regarded as the wisdom of speech, Ulysses manifests throughout the whole poem, both in the Trial,89 the Petitions,90 and the Embassy.91 Of him it is said by Antenor,

“But when he spake, forth from his breast did flow
A torrent swift as winter’s feather’d snow.”92

Who can suppose that a poet capable of effectively introducing into his scenes rhetoricians, generals, and various other characters, each displaying some peculiar excellence, was nothing more than a droll or juggler, capable only of cheating or flattering his hearer, and not of instructing him.

Are we not all agreed that the chief merit of a poet consists in his accurate representation of the affairs of life? Can this be done by a mere driveller, unacquainted with the world?

The excellence of a poet is not to be measured by the same standard as that of a mechanic or a blacksmith, where honour and virtue have nothing to do with our estimate. But the poet and the individual are connected, and he only can become a good poet, who is in the first instance a worthy man.

6. To deny that our poet possesses the graces of oratory is using us hardly indeed. What is so befitting an orator, what so poetical as eloquence, and who so sweetly eloquent as Homer? But, by heaven! you’ll say, there are other styles of eloquence than those peculiar to poetry. Of course [I admit this]; in poetry itself there is the tragic and the comic style; in prose, the historic and the forensic. But is not language [Pg 28] a generality, of which poetry and prose are forms? Yes, language is; but are not the rhetorical, the eloquent, and the florid styles also? I answer, that flowery prose is nothing but an imitation of poetry. Ornate poetry was the first to make its appearance, and was well received. Afterwards it was closely imitated by writers in the time of Cadmus, Pherecydes, and Hecatæus. The metre was the only thing dispensed with, every other poetic grace being carefully preserved. As time advanced, one after another of its beauties was discarded, till at last it came down from its glory into our common prose. In the same way we may say that comedy took its rise from tragedy, but descended from its lofty grandeur into what we now call the common parlance of daily life. And when [we find] the ancient writers making use of the expression “to sing,” to designate eloquence of style, this in itself is an evidence that poetry is the source and origin of all ornamented and rhetorical language. Poetry in ancient days was on every occasion accompanied by melody. The song or ode was but a modulated speech, from whence the words rhapsody, tragedy, comedy,93 are derived; and since originally eloquence was the term made use of for the poetical effusions which were always of the nature of a song, it soon happened [that in speaking of poetry] some said, to sing, others, to be eloquent; and as the one term was early misapplied to prose compositions, the other also was soon applied in the same way. Lastly, the very term prose, which is applied to language not clothed in metre, seems to indicate, as it were, its descent from an elevation or chariot to the ground.94

7. Homer accurately describes many distant countries, and not only Greece and the neighbouring places, as Eratosthenes asserts. His romance, too, is in better style than that of his successors. He does not make up wondrous tales on every occasion, [Pg 29] but to instruct us the better often, and especially in the Odyssey, adds to the circumstances which have come under his actual observation, allegories, wise harangues, and enticing narrations. Concerning which, Eratosthenes is much mistaken when he says that both Homer and his commentators are a pack of fools. But this subject demands a little more of our attention.

8. To begin. The poets were by no means the first to avail themselves of myths. States and lawgivers had taken advantage of them long before, having observed the constitutional bias of mankind. Man is eager after knowledge, and the love of legend is but the prelude thereto. This is why children begin to listen [to fables], and are acquainted with them before any other kind of knowledge; the cause of this is that the myth introduces them to a new train of ideas, relating not to every-day occurrences, but something in addition to these.

A charm hangs round whatever is new and hitherto unknown, inspiring us with a desire to become acquainted with it, but when the wonderful and the marvellous are likewise present, our delight is increased until at last it becomes a philtre of study. To children we are obliged to hold out such enticements, in order that in riper years, when the mind is powerful, and no longer needs such stimulants, it may be prepared to enter on the study of actual realities.

Every illiterate and uninstructed man is yet a child, and takes delight in fable. With the partially informed it is much the same; reason is not all-powerful within him, and he still possesses the tastes of a child. But the marvellous, which is capable of exciting fear as well as pleasure, influences not childhood only, but age as well. As we relate to children pleasing tales to incite them [to any course] of action, and frightful ones to deter them, such as those of Lamia,95 Gorgo,96 Ephialtes,97 and Mormolyca.98 So numbers of our citizens are [Pg 30] incited to deeds of virtue by the beauties of fable, when they hear the poets in a strain of enthusiasm recording noble actions, such as the labours of Hercules or Theseus, and the honours bestowed on them by the gods, or even when they see paintings, sculptures, or figures bearing their romantic evidence to such events. In the same way they are restrained from vicious courses, when they think they have received from the gods by oracles or some other invisible intimations, threats, menaces, or chastisements, or even if they only believe they have befallen others. The great mass of women and common people, cannot be induced by mere force of reason to devote themselves to piety, virtue, and honesty; superstition must therefore be employed, and even this is insufficient without the aid of the marvellous and the terrible. For what are the thunderbolts, the ægis, the trident, the torches, the dragons, the barbed thyrses, the arms of the gods, and all the paraphernalia of antique theology, but fables employed by the founders of states, as bugbears to frighten timorous minds.

Such was mythology; and when our ancestors found it capable of subserving the purposes of social and political life, and even contributing to the knowledge of truth, they continued the education of childhood to maturer years, and maintained that poetry was sufficient to form the understanding of every age. In course of time history and our present philosophy were introduced; these, however, suffice but for the chosen few, and to the present day poetry is the main agent which instructs our people and crowds our theatres. Homer here stands pre-eminent, but in truth all the early historians and natural philosophers were mythologists as well.

9. Thus it is that our poet, though he sometimes employs fiction for the purposes of instruction, always gives the preference to truth; he makes use of what is false, merely tolerating it in order the more easily to lead and govern the multitude. As a man

“Binds with a golden verge
Bright silver:”99

so Homer, heightening by fiction actual occurrences, adorns and embellishes his subject; but his end is always the same as that of the historian, who relates nothing but facts. In [Pg 31] this manner he undertook the narration of the Trojan war, gilding it with the beauties of fancy and the wanderings of Ulysses; but we shall never find Homer inventing an empty fable apart from the inculcation of truth. It is ever the case that a person lies most successfully, when he intermingles [into the falsehood] a sprinkling of truth. Such is the remark of Polybius in treating of the wanderings of Ulysses; such is also the meaning of the verse,

“He fabricated many falsehoods, relating them like truths:”100

not all, but many falsehoods, otherwise it would not have looked like the truth. Homer’s narrative is founded on history. He tells us that king Æolus governed the Lipari Islands, that around Mount Ætna and Leontini dwelt the Cyclopæ, and certain Læstrygonians inhospitable to strangers. That at that time the districts surrounding the strait were unapproachable; and Scylla and Charybdis were infested by banditti. In like manner in the writings of Homer we are informed of other freebooters, who dwelt in divers regions. Being aware that the Cimmerians dwelt on the Cimmerian Bosphorus, a dark northern country, he felicitously locates them in a gloomy region close by Hades, a fit theatre for the scene in the wanderings of Ulysses. That he was acquainted with these people we may satisfy ourselves from the chroniclers, who report an incursion made by the Cimmerians either during his lifetime or just before.

10. Being acquainted with Colchis, and the voyage of Jason to Æa, and also with the historical and fabulous relations concerning Circe and Medea, their enchantments and their various other points of resemblance, he feigns there was a relationship between them, notwithstanding the vast distance by which they were separated, the one dwelling in an inland creek of the Euxine, and the other in Italy, and both of them beyond the ocean.

It is possible that Jason himself wandered as far as Italy, for traces of the Argonautic expedition are pointed out near the Ceraunian101 mountains, by the Adriatic,102 at the Posidonian103 Gulf and the isles adjacent to Tyrrhenia.104 The [Pg 32] Cyaneæ, called by some the Symplegades,105 or Jostling Rocks, which render the passage through the Strait of Constantinople so difficult, also afforded matter to our poet. The actual existence of a place named Æa, stamped credibility upon his Ææa; so did the Symplegades upon the Planctæ, (the Jostling Rocks upon the Wandering Rocks,) and the passage of Jason through the midst of them; in the same way Scylla and Charybdis accredited the passage [of Ulysses] past those rocks. In his time people absolutely regarded the Euxine as a kind of second ocean, and placed those who had crossed it in the same list with navigators who had passed the Pillars.106 It was looked upon as the largest of our seas, and was therefore par excellence styled the Sea, in the same way as Homer [is called] the Poet. In order therefore to be well received, it is probable he transferred the scenes from the Euxine to the ocean, so as not to stagger the general belief. And in my opinion those Solymi who possess the highest ridges of Taurus, lying between Lycia and Pisidia, and those who in their southern heights stand out most conspicuously to the dwellers on this side Taurus, and the inhabitants of the Euxine by a figure of speech, he describes as being beyond the ocean. For narrating the voyage of Ulysses in his ship, he says,

“But Neptune, traversing in his return
From Ethiopia’s sons, the mountain heights
Of Solymè, descried him from afar.”107

It is probable he took his account of the one-eyed Cyclopæ from Scythian history, for the Arimaspi, whom Aristæus of Proconnesus describes in his Tales of the Arimaspi, are said to be distinguished by this peculiarity.

11. Having premised thus much, we must now take into consideration the reasons of those who assert that Homer [Pg 33] makes Ulysses wander to Sicily or Italy, and also of those who denied this. The truth is, he may be equally interpreted on this subject either way, according as we take a correct or incorrect view of the case. Correct, if we understand that he was convinced of the reality of Ulysses’ wanderings there, and taking this truth as a foundation, raised thereon a poetical superstructure. And so far this description of him is right; for not about Italy only, but to the farthest extremities of Spain, traces of his wanderings and those of similar adventurers may still be found. Incorrect, if the scene-painting is received as fact, his Ocean, and Hades, the oxen of the sun, his hospitable reception by the goddesses, the metamorphoses, the gigantic size of the Cyclopæ and Læstrygonians, the monstrous appearance of Scylla, the distance of the voyage, and other similar particulars, all alike manifestly fabulous. It is as idle to waste words with a person who thus openly maligns our poet, as it would be with one who should assert as true all the particulars of Ulysses’ return to Ithaca,108 the slaughter of the suitors, and the pitched battle between him and the Ithacans in the field. But nothing can be said against the man who understands the words of the poet in a rational way.

12. Eratosthenes, though on no sufficient grounds for so doing, rejects both these opinions, endeavouring in his attack on the latter, to refute by lengthened arguments what is manifestly absurd and unworthy of consideration, and in regard to the former, maintaining a poet to be a mere gossip, to whose worth an acquaintance with science or geography could not add in the least degree: since the scenes of certain of Homer’s fables are cast in actual localities, as Ilium,109 Pelion,110 and Ida;111 others in purely imaginary regions, such as those of the Gorgons and Geryon. “Of this latter class,” he says, “are the places mentioned in the wanderings of Ulysses, and those who pretend that they are not mere fabrications of the poet, but [Pg 34] have an actual existence, are proved to be mistaken by the differences of opinion existing among themselves: for some of them assert that the Sirenes of Homer are situated close to Pelorus,112 and others that they are more than two thousand stadia distant,113 near the Sirenussæ,114 a three-peaked rock which separates the Gulfs of Cumæa and Posidonium.” Now, in the first place, this rock is not three-peaked, nor does it form a crest at the summit at all, but a long and narrow angle reaching from the territory of Surrentum115 to the Strait of Capria,116 having on one side of the mountain the temple of the Sirens, and on the other side, next the Gulf of Posidonium, three little rocky and uninhabited islands, named the Sirenes; upon the strait, is situated the Athenæum, from which the rocky angle itself takes its name.

13. Further, if those who describe the geography of certain places do not agree in every particular, are we justified in at once rejecting their whole narration? Frequently this is a reason why it should receive the greater credit. For example, in the investigation whether the scene of Ulysses’ wanderings were Sicily or Italy, and the proper position of the Sirenes, they differ in so far that one places them at Pelorus, and the other at Sirenussæ, but neither of them dissents from the idea that it was some where near Sicily or Italy. They add thereby strength to this view, inasmuch as though they are not agreed as to the exact locality, neither of them makes any question but that it was some where contiguous to Italy or Sicily. If a third party should add, that the monument of Parthenope, who was one of the Sirens, is shown at Naples, this only confirms us the more in our belief, for though a third place is introduced to our notice, still as Naples is situated in the gulf called by Eratosthenes the Cumæan, and [Pg 35] which is formed by the Sirenussæ, we are more confident still that the position of the Sirenes was some where close by.

That the poet did not search for accuracy in every minor detail we admit, but neither ought we to expect this of him; at the same time we are not to believe that he composed his poem without inquiring into the history of the Wandering, nor where and how it occurred.

14. Eratosthenes “thinks it probable that Hesiod, having heard of the wanderings of Ulysses, and of their having taken place near to Sicily and Italy, embraced this view of the case, and not only describes the places spoken of by Homer, but also Ætna, the Isle of Ortygia,117 near to Syracuse, and Tyrrhenia. As for Homer, he was altogether unacquainted with these places, and further, had no wish to lay the scene of the wanderings in any well-known locality.” What! are then Ætna and Tyrrhenia such well-known places, and Scyllæeum, Charybdis, Circæum,118 and the Sirenussæ, so obscure? Or is Hesiod so correct as never to write nonsense, but always follow in the wake of received opinions, while Homer blurts out whatever comes uppermost? Without taking into consideration our remarks on the character and aptitude of Homer’s myths, a large array of writers who bear evidence to his statements, and the additional testimony of local tradition, are sufficient proof that his are not the inventions of poets or contemporary scribblers, but the record of real actors and real scenes.

15. The conjecture of Polybius in regard to the particulars of the wandering of Ulysses is excellent. He says that Æolus instructed sailors how to navigate the strait, a difficult matter on account of the currents occasioned by the ebb and flow, and was therefore called the dispenser of the winds, and reputed their king.

In like manner Danaus for pointing out the springs of water that were in Argos, and Atreus for showing the retrograde movement of the sun in the heavens, from being mere soothsayers and diviners, were raised to the dignity of kings. And the priests of the Egyptians, the Chaldeans, and Magi, distinguished for their wisdom above those around them, obtained from our predecessors honour and authority; [Pg 36] and so it is that in each of the gods, we worship the discoverer of some useful art.

Having thus introduced his subject, he does not allow us to consider the account of Æolus, nor yet the rest of the Odyssey, as altogether mythical. There is a spice of the fabulous here, as well as in the Trojan War,119 but as respects Sicily, the poet accords entirely with the other historians who have written on the local traditions of Sicily and Italy. He altogether denies the justness of Eratosthenes’ dictum, “that we may hope to discover the whereabout of Ulysses’ wanderings, when we can find the cobbler who sewed up the winds in the leathern sack.” “And [adds Polybius] his description of the hunt of the galeotes120 at Scylla,

‘Plunged to her middle in the horrid den
She lurks, protruding from the black abyss
Her heads, with which the ravening monster dives
In quest of dolphins, dog-fish, or of prey
More bulky,’121

accords well with what takes place around Scyllæum: for the thunny-fish, carried in shoals by Italy, and not being able to reach Sicily, fall into [the Strait], where they become the prey of larger fish, such as dolphins, dog-fish, and other cetacea, and it is by this means that the galeotes (which are also called sword-fish) and dogs fatten themselves. For the same thing occurs here, and at the rising of the Nile and other rivers, as takes place when a forest is on fire. Vast crowds of animals, in flying from the fire or the water, become the prey of beasts more powerful than themselves.”

16. He then goes on to describe the manner in which they catch the sword-fish at Scyllæum. One look-out directs the whole body of fishers, who are in a vast number of small boats, each furnished with two oars, and two men to each boat. One man rows, the other stands on the prow, spear in hand, while the look-out has to signal the appearance of a sword-fish. (This fish, when swimming, has about a third of its body above water.) As it passes the boat, the fisher darts the spear from his hand, and when this is withdrawn, it leaves the sharp point with which it is furnished sticking in the flesh [Pg 37] of the fish: this point is barbed, and loosely fixed to the spear for the purpose; it has a long end fastened to it; this they pay out to the wounded fish, till it is exhausted with its struggling and endeavours at escape. Afterwards they trail it to the shore, or, unless it is too large and full-grown, haul it into the boat. If the spear should fall into the sea, it is not lost, for it is jointed of oak and pine, so that when the oak sinks on account of its weight, it causes the other end to rise, and thus is easily recovered. It sometimes happens that the rower is wounded, even through the boat, and such is the size of the sword with which the galeote is armed, such the strength of the fish, and the method of the capture, that [in danger] it is not surpassed by the chase of the wild boar. From these facts (he says) we may conclude that Ulysses’ wanderings were close to Sicily, since Homer describes Scylla122 as engaging in a pursuit exactly similar to that which is carried on at Scyllæum. As to Charybdis, he describes just what takes place at the Strait of Messina:

“Each day she thrice disgorges,”123

instead of twice, being only a mistake, either of the scribe or the historian.

17. The customs of the inhabitants of Meninx124 closely correspond to the description of the Lotophagi. If any thing does not correspond, it should be attributed to change, or to misconception, or to poetical licence, which is made up of history, rhetoric, and fiction. Truth is the aim of the historical portion, as for instance in the Catalogue of Ships,125 where the poet informs us of the peculiarities of each place, that one is rocky, another the furthest city, that this abounds in doves, and that is maritime. A lively interest is the end of the rhetorical, as when he points to us the combat; and of the fiction, pleasure and astonishment. A mere fabrication would neither be persuasive nor Homeric; and we know that his poem [Pg 38] is generally considered a scientific treatise, notwithstanding what Eratosthenes may say, when he bids us not to judge poems by the standard of intellect, nor yet look to them for history.

It is most probable that the line

“Nine days by cruel storms thence was I borne
Athwart the fishy deep,”126

should be understood of merely a short distance, (for cruel storms do not blow in a right course,) and not of being carried beyond the ocean, as if impelled by favourable winds. “And,” says Polybius, “allowing the distance from Malea127 to the Pillars to be 22,500 stadia, and supposing the rate of passage was the same throughout the nine days, the voyage must have been accomplished at the speed of 2500 stadia per diem: now who has ever recorded that the passage from Lycia or Rhodes to Alexandria, a distance of 4000 stadia, has been made in two days? To those who demand how it was that Ulysses, though he journeyed thrice to Sicily, never once navigated the Strait, we reply that, long after his time, voyagers always sedulously avoided that route.”

18. Such are the sentiments of Polybius; and in many respects they are correct enough; but when he discusses the voyage beyond the ocean, and enters on minute calculations of the proportion borne by the distance to the number of days, he is greatly mistaken. He alleges perpetually the words of the poet,

“Nine days by cruel storms thence was I borne;”

but at the same time he takes no notice of this expression, which is his as well,

“And now borne sea-ward from the river stream
Of the Oceanus;”128

and this,

“In the island of Ogygia, the centre of the sea,”129

[Pg 39] and that the daughter of Atlas130 dwells there. And the following concerning the Phæacians,

“Remote amid the billowy deep, we hold
Our dwelling, utmost of all human kind,
And free from mixture with a foreign race.”131

These passages clearly refer to the Atlantic Ocean,132 but though so plainly expressed, Polybius slily manages to overlook them. Here he is altogether wrong, though quite correct about the wandering of Ulysses having taken place round Sicily and Italy, a fact which Homer establishes himself. Otherwise, what poet or writer could have persuaded the Neapolitans to assert that they possessed the tomb of Parthenope133 the Siren, or the inhabitants of Cumæ, Dicæarchia,134 and Vesuvius [to bear their testimony] to Pyriphlegethon, the Marsh of Acherusia,135 to the oracle of the dead which was near Aornus,136 and to Baius and Misenus,137 the companions of Ulysses. The same is the case with the Sirenussae, and the Strait of Messina, and Scylla, and Charybdis, and Æolus, all which things should neither be examined into too rigorously, nor yet [despised] as groundless and without foundation, alike remote from truth and historic value.

19. Eratosthenes seems to have had something like this view of the case himself, when he says, “Any one would believe that the poet intended the western regions as the scene of Ulysses’ wanderings, but that he has departed from fact, sometimes through want of perfect information, at other times because he wished to give to scenes a more terrific and marvellous appearance than they actually possessed.” So far this is true, but his idea of the object which the poet had in [Pg 40] view while composing, is false; real advantage, not trifling, being his aim. We may justly reprehend his assertion on this point, as also where he says, that Homer places the scene of his marvels in distant lands that he may lie the more easily. Remote localities have not furnished him with near so many wonderful narrations as Greece, and the countries thereto adjacent; witness the labours of Hercules, and Theseus, the fables concerning Crete, Sicily, and the other islands; besides those connected with Cithærum, Helicon,138 Parnassus,139 Pelion,140 and the whole of Attica and the Peloponnesus. Let us not therefore tax the poets with ignorance on account of the myths which they employ, and since, so far from myth being the staple, they for the most part avail themselves of actual occurrences, (and Homer does this in a remarkable degree,) the inquirer who will seek how far these ancient writers have wandered into fiction, ought not to scrutinize to what extent the fiction was carried, but rather what is the truth concerning those places and persons to which the fictions have been applied; for instance, whether the wanderings of Ulysses did actually occur, and where.

20. On the whole, however, it is not proper to place the works of Homer in the common catalogue of other poets, without challenging for him a superiority both in respect of his other [excellences] and also for the geography on which our attention is now engaged.

If any one were to do no more than merely read through the Triptolemus of Sophocles, or the prologue to the Bacchæ of Euripides, and then compare them with the care taken by Homer in his geographical descriptions, he would at once perceive both the difference and superiority of the latter, for wherever there is necessity for arrangement in the localities he has immortalized, he is careful to preserve it as well in regard to Greece, as to foreign countries.

On the Olympian summit thought to fix
Huge Ossa, and on Ossa’s towering head
Pelion with all his forests.”141
“And Juno starting from the Olympian height
O’erflew Pieria and the lovely plains
Of broad Emathia;142 soaring thence she swept
The snow-clad summit of the Thracian hills143
Steed-famed, nor printed, as she pass’d, the soil,
From Athos144 o’er the foaming billows borne.”145

In the Catalogue he does not describe his cities in regular order, because here there was no necessity, but both the people and foreign countries he arranges correctly. “Having wandered to Cyprus, and Phœnice, and the Egyptians, I came to the Ethiopians, and Sidonians, and Erembi, and Libya.”146 Hipparchus has drawn attention to this. But the two tragedians, where there was great necessity for proper arrangement, one147 where he introduces Bacchus visiting the nations, the other148 Triptolemus sowing the earth, have brought in juxta-position places far remote, and separated those which were near.

“And having left the wealthy lands of the Lydians and Phrygians, and the sunny plains of the Persians and the Bactrian walls, and having come over the stormy land of the Medes, and the Happy Arabia.”149 And the Triptolemus is just as inaccurate.

Further, in respect to the winds and climates, Homer shows the wide extent of his geographical knowledge, for in his [Pg 42] topographical descriptions he not unfrequently informs us of both these matters. Thus,

“My abode
Is sun-burnt Ithaca.
Flat on the deep she lies, farthest removed
Toward the west, while situate apart,
Her sister islands face the rising day.”150


“It has a two-fold entrance,
One towards the north, the other south.”151

And again,

“Which I alike despise, speed they their course
With right-hand flight towards the ruddy east,
Or leftward down into the shades of eve.”152

Ignorance of such matters he reckons no less than confusion.

“Alas! my friends, for neither west
Know we, nor east; where rises or where sets
The all-enlightening sun.”153

Where the poet has said properly enough,

“As when two adverse winds, blowing from Thrace,
Boreas and Zephyrus,”154

Eratosthenes ill-naturedly misrepresents him as saying in an absolute sense, that the west wind blows from Thrace; whereas he is not speaking in an absolute sense at all, but merely of the meeting of contrary winds near the bay of Melas,155 on the Thracian sea, itself a part of the Ægæan. For where Thrace forms a kind of promontory, where it borders on Macedonia,156 [Pg 43] it takes a turn to the south-west, and projects into the ocean, and from this point it seems to the inhabitants of Thasos, Lemnos, Imbros, Samothracia,157 and the surrounding sea, that the west winds blow.158 So in regard to Attica, they seem to come from the rocks of Sciros,159 and this is the reason why all the westerly winds, the north-west more particularly, are called the Scirones. Of this Eratosthenes was not aware, though he suspected as much, for it was he who described this bending of the land [towards the south-west] which we have mentioned. But he interprets our poet in an absolute sense, and then taxes him with ignorance, because, says he, “Zephyr blows from the west, and off Spain, and Thrace does not extend so far.” Does he then think that Homer was not aware that Zephyr came from the west, notwithstanding the careful manner in which he distinguishes its position when he writes as follows:

“The east, the south, the heavy-blowing Zephyr,
And the cold north-wind clear.”160

Or was he ignorant that Thrace did not extend beyond the Pæonian and Thessalian mountains.161 To be sure he was well acquainted with the position of the countries adjoining Thrace in that direction, and does he not mention by name both the maritime and inland districts, and tells us of the Magnetæ,162 the Malians,163 and other Grecian [territories], all in order, as far as Thesprotis;164 also of the Dolopes165 bordering on Pæonia, [Pg 44] and the Sellæ who inhabit the territory around Dodona166 as far as the [river] Achelous,167 but he never mentions Thrace, as being beyond these. He has evidently a predilection for the sea which is nearest to him, and with which he is most familiar, as where he says,

“Commotion shook
The whole assembly, such as heaves the flood
Of the Icarian deep.”168

21. Some writers tell us there are but two principal winds, the north and south, and that the other winds are only a slight difference in the direction of these two. That is, (supposing only two winds, the north and south,) the south wind from the commencement of the summer quarter blows in a south-easterly direction; and from the commencement of the winter quarter from the east. The north wind from the decline of the summer, blows in a westerly direction, and from the decline of the winter, in a north-westerly direction.

In support of this opinion of the two winds they adduce Thrasyalces and our poet himself, forasmuch as he mentions the north-west with the south,

“From the north-west south,”169

and the west with the north,

“As when two adverse winds, blowing from Thrace,
Boreas and Zephyrus.”170

But Posidonius remarks that none of those who are really acquainted with these subjects, such as Aristotle, Timosthenes, [Pg 45] and Bion the astronomer, entertain so mistaken an opinion in regard to the winds. They say that the north-east (Cæcias) blows from the commencement of summer, and that the south-west wind (Libs), which is exactly opposite to this, blows from the decline of winter. And again, the south-east wind (Eurus), which is opposite to the north-west wind (Argestes), from the commencement of winter. The east and west winds being intermediate.

When our poet makes use of the expression “stormy zephyr,” he means the wind which is now called by us the north-west; and by the “clear-blowing zephyr” our west wind; our Leuconotus is his Argestes-notus, or clearing south wind,171 for this wind brings but few clouds, all the other southern winds bringing clouds and rain,172

“As when whirlwinds of the west
A storm encounter from the clearing south.”173

Here he alludes to the stormy zephyr, which very frequently scatters the feathery clouds brought up by the Leuconotus, or, as it is called by way of epithet, the clearing south.

The statements made by Eratosthenes in the first book of his Geography, require some such correction as this.

22. Persisting in his false views in relation to Homer, he goes on to say, “He was ignorant that the Nile separated into many mouths, nay, he was not even acquainted with the name of the river, though Hesiod knew it well, for he even mentions it.”174 In respect of the name, it is probable that it [Pg 46] had not then been given to the river, and as to the mouths, if they were obscure and little known, will not every one excuse him for not being aware whether there were several or merely one? At that time, the river, its rising, and its mouths were considered, as they are at the present day, amongst the most remarkable, the most wonderful, and most worthy of recording of all the peculiarities of Egypt: who can suppose that those who told our poet of the country and river of Egypt, of Egyptian Thebes, and of Pharos, were unaware of the many embouchures of the Nile; or that being aware, they would not have described them, were it not that they were too generally known? “But is it not inconceivable that Homer should describe Ethiopia, and the Sidonians, the Erembi, and the Exterior Sea,175—should tell us that Ethiopia was divided into two parts, and yet nothing about those things which were nearer and better known?” Certainly not, his not describing these things is no proof that he was not acquainted with them. He does not tell us of his own country, nor yet many other things. The most probable reason is, they were so generally known that they did not appear to him worth recording.176

23. Again, they are entirely wrong when they allege as a mark of Homer’s ignorance, that he describes the island of Pharos177 as entirely surrounded by the sea. On the contrary, it might be taken advantage of as a proof that our poet was not unacquainted with a single one of the points concerning Egypt which we have just been speaking of: and thus we [Pg 47] demonstrate it:—Every one is prone to romance a little in narrating his travels, and Menelaus was no exception to the rule. He had been to Ethiopia,178 and there heard much discussion concerning the sources of the Nile, and the alluvium which it deposited, both along its course and also at its mouths, and the large additions which it had thereby made to the mainland, so as fully to justify the remark of Herodotus179 that the whole of Egypt was a gift from the river; or if not the whole, at all events that part of it below the Delta, called Lower Egypt. He had heard too that Pharos was entirely surrounded by sea, and therefore misrepresented it as entirely surrounded by the sea, although it had long ago ceased so to be. Now the author of all this was Homer, and we therefore infer that he was not ignorant concerning either the sources or the mouths of the Nile.

24. They are again mistaken when they say that he was not aware of the isthmus between the sea of Egypt and the Arabian Gulf, and that his description is false,

“The Ethiopians, utmost of mankind,
These eastward situate, those toward the west.”180

Nevertheless he is correct, and the criticism of the moderns is quite out of place: indeed, there is so little truth in the assertion that Homer was ignorant of this isthmus, that I will venture to affirm he was not only acquainted with it, but has also accurately defined it. But none of the grammarians, not [Pg 48] even the chiefs of their number, Aristarchus and Crates, have understood the words of our poet on this subject. For they disagree as to the words which follow this expression of Homer,

“The Ethiopians, utmost of mankind,
These eastward situate, those towards the west,”181

Aristarchus writing,

“These towards the west, and those towards the east,”

and Crates,

“As well in the west as also in the east.”

However, in regard to their hypotheses, it makes no difference whether the passage were written this way or that. One of them, in fact, takes what he considers the mathematical view of the case, and says that the torrid zone is occupied by the ocean,182 and that on each side of this there is a temperate zone, one inhabited by us and another opposite thereto. And as we call the Ethiopians, who are situated to the south, and dwell along the shores of the ocean, the most distant on the face of the inhabited globe; so he supposed that on the other side of the ocean,183 there were certain Ethiopians dwelling along the shores, who would in like manner be considered the most distant184 by the inhabitants of the other temperate zone; and thus that the Ethiopians were double, separated into two divisions by the ocean. He adds, “as well in the west as also in the east,” because as the celestial zodiac always corresponds to the terrestrial, and never exceeds in its obliquity the space occupied by the two Ethiopias, the sun’s entire course must necessarily be within this space, and also his rising and setting, as it appears to different nations according to the sign which he may be in.

He (Crates) adopted this version, because he considered it the more astronomical. But it would have maintained his opinion of the division of the Ethiopians into two parts, and [Pg 49] at the same time have been much more simple, had he said that the Ethiopians dwelt on either side of the ocean from the rising to the setting of the sun. In this case what difference does it make whether we follow his version, or adopt the reading of Aristarchus,

“These towards the west, and those towards the east?”

which also means, that whether east or west, on either side of the ocean, Ethiopians dwell. But Aristarchus rejects this hypothesis. He says, “The Ethiopians with whom we are acquainted, and who are farthest south from the Greeks, are those described by the poet as being separated into two divisions. But Ethiopia is not so separated as to form two countries, one situated towards the west, the other towards the east, but only one, that which lies south of the Greeks and adjoins Egypt; but of this the poet was ignorant, as well as of other matters enumerated by Apollodorus, which he has falsely stated concerning various places in his second book, containing the catalogue of the ships.”

25. To refute Crates would require a lengthened argument, which here perhaps may be considered out of place. Aristarchus we commend for rejecting the hypothesis of Crates, which is open to many objections, and for referring the expression of the poet to our Ethiopia. But the remainder of his statement we must discuss. First, his minute examination of the reading is altogether fruitless, for whichever way it may have been written, his interpretation is equally applicable to both; for what difference is there whether you say thus—In our opinion there are two Ethiopias, one towards the east, the other to the west; or thus—For they are as well towards the east as the west? Secondly, he makes false assumptions. For admitting that the poet was ignorant of the isthmus,185 and that he alludes to the Ethiopia contiguous to Egypt, when he says,

The Ethiopians separated into two divisions;186

what then? Are they not separated into two divisions, and could the poet have thus expressed himself if he had been in ignorance? Is not Egypt, nay, are not the Egyptians, separated [Pg 50] into two divisions by the Nile from the Delta to Syene,187

These towards the west, those towards the east?

And what else is Egypt, with the exception of the island formed by the river and overflowed by its waters; does it not lie on either side of the river both east and west?

Ethiopia runs in the same direction as Egypt, and resembles it both in its position with respect to the Nile, and in its other geographical circumstances. It is narrow, long, and subject to inundation; beyond the reach of this inundation it is desolate and parched, and unfitted for the habitation of man; some districts lying to the east and some to the west of [the river]. How then can we deny that it is separated into two divisions? Shall the Nile, which is looked upon by some people as the proper boundary line between Asia and Libya,188 and which extends southward in length more than 10,000 stadia, embracing in its breadth islands which contain populations of above ten thousand men, the largest of these being Meroe, the seat of empire and metropolis of the Ethiopians, be regarded as too insignificant to divide Ethiopia into two parts? The greatest obstacle which they who object to the river being made the line of demarcation between the two continents are able to allege, is, that Egypt and Ethiopia are by this means divided, one part of each being assigned to Libya, and the other to Asia, or, if this will not suit, the continents cannot be divided at all, or at least not by the river.

26. But besides these there is another method of dividing Ethiopia. All those who have sailed along the coasts of Libya, whether starting from the Arabian Gulf,189 or the Pillars,190 after proceeding a certain distance, have been obliged to turn back again on account of a variety of accidents; and thus originated a general belief that it was divided midway by some isthmus, although the whole of [Pg 51] the Atlantic Ocean is confluent, more especially towards the south. Besides, all of these navigators called the final country which they reached, Ethiopia, and described it under that name. Is it therefore at all incredible, that Homer, misled by such reports, separated them into two divisions, one towards the east and the other west, not knowing whether there were any intermediate countries or not? But there is another ancient tradition related by Ephorus, which Homer had probably fallen in with. He tells us it is reported by the Tartessians,191 that some of the Ethiopians, on their arrival in Libya,192 penetrated into the extreme west, and settled down there, while the rest occupied the greater part of the sea-coast; and in support of this statement he quotes the passage of Homer,

The Ethiopians, the farthest removed of men, separated into two divisions.

27. These and other more stringent arguments may be urged against Aristarchus and those of his school, to clear our poet from the charge of such gross ignorance. I assert that the ancient Greeks, in the same way as they classed all the northern nations with which they were familiar under the one name of Scythians, or, according to Homer, Nomades, and [Pg 52] afterwards becoming acquainted with those towards the west, styled them Kelts and Iberians; sometimes compounding the names into Keltiberians, or Keltoscythians, thus ignorantly uniting various distinct nations; so I affirm they designated as Ethiopia the whole of the southern countries towards the ocean. Of this there is evidence, for Æschylus, in the Prometheus Loosed,193 thus speaks:

There [is] the sacred wave, and the coralled bed of the Erythræan Sea, and [there] the luxuriant marsh of the Ethiopians, situated near the ocean, glitters like polished brass; where daily in the soft and tepid stream, the all-seeing sun bathes his undying self, and refreshes his weary steeds.

And as the ocean holds the same position in respect to the sun, and serves the same purpose throughout the whole southern region,194 he195 therefore concludes that the Ethiopians inhabited the whole of the region.

And Euripides in his Phaeton196 says that Clymene was given

“To Merops, sovereign of that land
Which from his four-horsed chariot first
The rising sun strikes with his golden rays;
And which its swarthy neighbours call
The radiant stable of the Morn and Sun.”

Here the poet merely describes them as the common stables of the Morning and of the Sun; but further on he tells us they were near to the dwellings of Merops, and in fact the whole plot of the piece has reference to this. This does not therefore refer alone to the [land] next to Egypt, but rather to the whole southern country extending along the sea-coast.

28. Ephorus likewise shows us the opinion of the ancients respecting Ethiopia, in his Treatise on Europe. He says, “If the whole celestial and terrestrial globe were divided into four parts, the Indians would possess that towards the east, the Ethiopians towards the south, the Kelts towards the west, and the Scythians towards the north.” He adds that Ethiopia is larger than Scythia; for, says he, it appears that the country of the Ethiopians extends from the rising to the setting of the sun in winter; and Scythia is opposite to it.

[Pg 53] It is evident this was the opinion of Homer, since he places Ithaca

Towards the gloomy region,197

that is, towards the north,198 but the others apart,

Towards the morning and the sun,

by which he means the whole southern hemisphere: and again when he says,

“speed they their course
With right-hand flight towards the ruddy east,
Or leftward down into the shades of eve.”199

And again,

“Alas! my friends, for neither west
Know we, nor east, where rises or where sets
The all-enlightening sun.”200

Which we shall explain more fully when we come to speak of Ithaca.201

When therefore he says,

“For to the banks of the Oceanus,
Where Ethiopia holds a feast to Jove,
He journey’d yesterday,”202

we should take this in a general sense, and understand by it the whole of the ocean which washes Ethiopia and the southern region, for to whatever part of this region you direct your attention, you will there find both the ocean and Ethiopia. It is in a similar style he says,

“But Neptune, traversing in his return
From Ethiopia’s sons the mountain heights
Of Solymè, descried him from afar.”203

[Pg 54] which is equal to saying, “in his return from the southern regions,”204 meaning by the Solymi, as I remarked before, not those of Pisidia, but certain others merely imaginary, having the same name, and bearing the like relation to the navigators in [Ulysses’] ship, and the southern inhabitants there called Ethiopians, as those of Pisidia do in regard to Pontus and the inhabitants of Egyptian Ethiopia. What he says about the cranes must likewise be understood in a general sense.

“Such clang is heard
Along the skies, when from incessant showers
Escaping, and from winter’s cold, the cranes
Take wing, and over ocean speed away.
Woe to the land of dwarfs! prepared they fly
For slaughter of the small Pygmæan race.”205

For it is not in Greece alone that the crane is observed to emigrate to more southern regions, but likewise from Italy and Iberia,206 from [the shores of] the Caspian, and from Bactriana. But since the ocean extends along the whole southern coast, and the cranes fly to all parts of it indiscriminately at the approach of winter, we must likewise believe that the Pygmies207 were equally considered to inhabit the whole of it.

[Pg 55] And if the moderns have confined the term of Ethiopians to those only who dwell near to Egypt, and have also restricted the Pygmies in like manner, this must not be allowed to interfere with the meaning of the ancients. We do not speak of all the people who fought against Troy as merely Achæans and Argives, though Homer describes the whole under those two names. Similar to this is my remark concerning the separation of the Ethiopians into two divisions, that under that designation we should understand the whole of the nations inhabiting the sea-board from east to west. The Ethiopians taken in this sense are naturally separated into two parts by the Arabian Gulf, which occupies a considerable portion of a meridian circle,208 and resembles a river, being in length nearly 15,000 stadia,209 and in breadth not above 1000 at the widest point. In addition to the length, the recess of the Gulf is distant from the sea at Pelusium only three or four days’ journey across the isthmus. On this account those who are most felicitous in their division of Asia and Africa, prefer the Gulf210 as a better boundary line for the [Pg 56] two continents than the Nile, since it extends almost entirely from sea to sea, whereas the Nile is so remote from the ocean that it does not by any means divide the whole of Asia from Africa. On this account I believe it was the Gulf which the poet looked upon as dividing into two portions the whole southern regions of the inhabited earth. Is it possible, then, that he was unacquainted with the isthmus which separates this Gulf from the Egyptian Sea?211

29. It is quite irrational to suppose that he could be accurately acquainted with Egyptian Thebes,212 which is separated from our sea213 by a little less than 5000214 stadia; and yet ignorant of the recess of the Arabian Gulf, and of the isthmus there, whose breadth is not more than 1000 stadia. Still more, would it not be ridiculous to believe that Homer was aware the Nile was called by the same name as the vast country [of Egypt], and yet unacquainted with the reason why? especially since the saying of Herodotus would occur to him, that the country was a gift from the river, and it ought therefore [Pg 57] to bear its name. Further, the best known peculiarities of a country are those which have something of the nature of a paradox, and are likely to arrest general attention. Of this kind are the rising of the Nile, and the alluvial deposition at its mouth. There is nothing in the whole country to which travellers in Egypt so immediately direct their inquiries, as the character of the Nile; nor do the inhabitants possess any thing else equally wonderful and curious, of which to inform foreigners; for in fact, to give them a description of the river, is to lay open to their view every main characteristic of the country. It is the question put before every other by those who have never seen Egypt themselves. To these considerations we must add Homer’s thirst after knowledge, and his delight in visiting foreign lands, (tastes which we are assured both by those who have written histories of his life, and also by innumerable testimonies throughout his own poems, he possessed in an eminent degree,) and we shall have abundant evidence both of the extent of his information, and the felicity with which he described objects he deemed important, and passed over altogether, or with slight allusion, matters which were generally known.

30. These Egyptians and Syrians215 whom we have been criticising fill one with amazement. They do not understand [Homer], even when he is describing their own countries, but accuse him of ignorance where, as our argument proves, they are open to the charge themselves. Not to mention a thing is clearly no evidence that a person is not acquainted with it.216 Homer does not tell us of the change in the current of the Euripus, nor of Thermopylæ, nor of many other remarkable things well known to the Greeks; but was he therefore unacquainted with them? He describes to us, although these men, who are obstinately deaf, will not hear: they have themselves to blame.

Our poet applies to rivers the epithet of “heaven-sent.” And this not only to mountain torrents, but to all rivers alike, since they are all replenished by the showers. But even what [Pg 58] is general becomes particular when it is bestowed on any object par excellence. Heaven-sent, when applied to a mountain torrent, means something else than when it is the epithet of the ever-flowing river; but the force of the term is doubly felt when attributed to the Nile. For as there are hyperboles of hyperboles, for instance, to be “lighter than the shadow of a cork,” “more timid than a Phrygian hare,”217 “to possess an estate shorter than a Lacedæmonian epistle;” so excellence becomes more excellent, when the title of “heaven-sent” is given to the Nile. The mountain torrent has a better claim to be called heaven-sent than other rivers, but the Nile exceeds the mountain torrents, both in its size and the lengthened period of its overflow. Since, then, the wonders of this river were known to our poet, as we have shown in this defence, when he applies this epithet to the Nile, it must only be understood in the way we have explained. Homer did not think it worth mentioning, especially to those who were acquainted with the fact, that the Nile had many mouths, since this is a common feature of numerous other rivers. Alcæus218 does not mention it, although he tells us he had been in Egypt. One might infer the fact of its alluvial deposit, both from the rising [of the river] and what Homer tells us concerning Pharos. For his account, or rather the vulgar report [Pg 59] concerning Pharos, that it was distant from the mainland a whole day’s voyage, ought not to be looked upon as a downright falsehood.

It is clear that Homer was only acquainted with the rising and deposit of the river in a general way, and concluding from what he heard that the island had been further removed in the time of Menelaus from the mainland, than it was in his own, he magnified the distance, simply that he might heighten the fiction. Fictions however are not the offspring of ignorance, as is sufficiently plain from those concerning Proteus, the Pygmies, the efficacy of charms, and many others similar to these fabricated by the poets. They narrate these things not through ignorance of the localities, but for the sake of giving pleasure and enjoyment. But [some one may inquire], how could he describe [Pharos], which is without water as possessed of that necessary?

“The haven there is good, and many a ship
Finds watering there from rivulets on the coast.”219

[I answer,] It is not impossible that the sources of water may since have failed. Besides, he does not say that the water was procured from the island, but that they went thither on account of the safety of the harbour; the water was probably obtained from the mainland, and by the expression the poet seems to admit that what he had before said of its being wholly surrounded by sea was not the actual fact, but a hyperbole or fiction.

31. As his description of the wanderings of Menelaus may seem to authenticate the charge of ignorance made against him in respect to those regions, it will perhaps be best to point out the difficulties of the narrative, and their explanation, and at the same time enter into a fuller defence of our poet. Menelaus thus addresses Telemachus, who is admiring the splendour of his palace:

“After numerous toils
And perilous wanderings o’er the stormy deep,
In the eighth year at last I brought them home.
Cyprus, Phœnicia, Sidon, and the shores
Of Egypt, roaming without hope, I reach’d,
[Pg 60]In distant Ethiopia thence arrived,
And Libya.”220

It is asked, What Ethiopians could he have met with on his voyage from Egypt? None are to be found dwelling by our sea,221 and with his vessels222 he could never have reached the cataracts of the Nile. Next, who are the Sidonians? Certainly not the inhabitants of Phœnicia; for having mentioned the genus, he would assuredly not particularize the species.223 And then the Erembi; this is altogether a new name. Our contemporary Aristonicus, the grammarian, in his [observations] on the wanderings of Menelaus, has recorded the opinions of numerous writers on each of the heads under discussion. It will be sufficient for us to refer to them very briefly. They who assert that Menelaus went by sea to Ethiopia, tell us he directed his course past Cadiz into the Indian Ocean;224 with which, say they, the long duration of his wanderings agrees, since he did not arrive there till the eighth year. Others, that he passed through the isthmus225 which enters the Arabian Gulf; and others again, through one of the canals. At the same time the idea of this circumnavigation, which owes its origin to Crates, is not necessary; we do not mean it was impossible, (for the wanderings of Ulysses are [Pg 61] not impossible,) but neither the mathematical hypothesis, nor yet the duration of the wandering, require such an explanation; for he was both retarded against his will by accidents in the voyage, as by [the tempest] which he narrates five only of his sixty ships survived; and also by voluntary delays for the sake of amassing wealth. Nestor says [of him],

“Thus he, provision gathering as he went,
And gold abundant, roam’d to distant lands.”226

[And Menelaus himself],

“Cyprus, Phœnicia, and the Egyptians’ land
I wandered through.”227

As to the navigation of the isthmus, or one of the canals, if it had been related by Homer himself, we should have counted it a myth; but as he does not relate it, we regard it as entirely extravagant and unworthy of belief. We say unworthy of belief, because at the time of the Trojan war no canal was in existence. It is recorded that Sesostris, who had planned the formation of one, apprehending that the level of the sea was too high to admit of it, desisted from the undertaking.228

Moreover the isthmus itself was not passable for ships, and Eratosthenes is unfortunate in his conjecture, for he considers that the strait at the Pillars was not then formed, [Pg 62] so that the Atlantic should by that channel communicate with the Mediterranean, and that this sea being higher than the Isthmus [of Suez], covered it; but when the Strait [of Gibraltar] was formed, the sea subsided considerably; and left the land about Casium229 and Pelusium230 dry as far over as the Red Sea.

But what account have we of the formation of this strait, supposing it were not in existence prior to the Trojan war? Is it likely that our poet would make Ulysses sail out through the Strait [of Gibraltar] into the Atlantic Ocean, as if that strait already existed, and at the same time describe Menelaus conducting his ships from Egypt to the Red Sea, as if it did not exist. Further, the poet introduces Proteus as saying to him,

“Thee the gods
Have destined to the blest Elysian Isles,
Earth’s utmost boundaries.”231

And what this place was, namely, some far western region, is evident from [the mention of] the Zephyr in connexion with it:

“But Zephyr always gently from the sea
Breathes on them.”232

This, however, is very enigmatical.

32. But if our poet speaks of the Isthmus of Suez as ever having been the strait of confluence between the Mediterranean and the Red Seas, how much more credit may we attribute to his division of the Ethiopians into two portions, being thus separated by so grand a strait! And what commerce could he have carried on with the Ethiopians who dwelt by the shores of the exterior sea and the ocean? Telemachus and his companions admire the multitude of ornaments that were in the palace,

“Of gold, electrum, silver, ivory.”233

Now the Ethiopians are possessed of none of these productions in any abundance, excepting ivory, being for the most [Pg 63] part a needy and nomad race. True, [you say,] but adjoining them is Arabia, and the whole country as far as India. One of these is distinguished above all other lands by the title of Felix,234 and the other, though not dignified by that name, is both generally believed and also said to be pre-eminently Blessed.

But [we reply], Homer was not acquainted with India, or he would have described it. And though he knew of the Arabia which is now named Felix, at that time it was by no means wealthy, but a wild country, the inhabitants of which dwelt for the most part in tents. It is only a small district which produces the aromatics from which the whole territory afterwards received its name,235 owing to the rarity of the commodity amongst us, and the value set upon it. That the Arabians are now flourishing and wealthy is due to their vast and extended traffic, but formerly it does not appear to have been considerable. A merchant or camel-driver might attain to opulence by the sale of these aromatics and similar commodities; but Menelaus could only become so either by plunder, or presents conferred on him by kings and nobles, who had the means at their disposal, and wished to gratify one so distinguished by glory and renown. The Egyptians, it is true, and the neighbouring Ethiopians and Arabians, were not so entirely destitute of the luxuries of civilization, nor so unacquainted with the fame of Agamemnon, especially after the termination of the Trojan war, but that Menelaus might have expected some benefits from their generosity, even as the breastplate of Agamemnon is said to be

“The gift
Of Cinyras long since; for rumour loud
Had Cyprus reached.”236

And we are told that the greater part of his wanderings were in Phœnicia, Syria, Egypt, Africa, around Cyprus, and, in fact, the whole of our coasts and islands.237 Here, indeed, he might hope to enrich himself both by the gifts of friendship [Pg 64] and by violence, and especially by the plunder of those who had been the allies of Troy. They however who dwelt on the exterior ocean, and the distant barbarians, held out no such encouragement: and when Menelaus is said to have been in Ethiopia, it is because he had reached the frontiers of that country next Egypt. But perhaps at that time the frontiers lay more contiguous to Thebes than they do now. At the present day the nearest are the districts adjacent to Syene and Philæ,238 the former town being entirely in Egypt, while Philæ is inhabited by a mixed population of Ethiopians and Egyptians. Supposing therefore he had arrived at Thebes, and thus reached the boundary-line of Ethiopia, where he experienced the munificence of the king, we must not be surprised if he is described as having passed through the country.239 On no better authority Ulysses declares he has been to the land of the Cyclops, although he merely left the sea to enter a cavern which he himself tells us was situated on the very borders of the country: and, in fact, wherever he came to anchor, whether at Æolia, Læstrygonia, or elsewhere, he is stated to have visited those places. In the same manner Menelaus is said to have been to Ethiopia and Libya, because here and there he touched at those places, and the port near Ardania above Parætonium240 is called after him “the port of Menelaus.”241

33. When, after mentioning Phœnicia, he talks of Sidon, its metropolis, he merely employs a common form of expression, for example,

He urged the Trojans and Hector to the ships.242

For the sons of magnanimous Œneus were no more, nor was he himself surviving; moreover, fair-haired Meleager was dead.243

He came to Ida—and to Gargarus.244

[Pg 65]

He possessed Eubœa, Chalcis, and Eretria.245

Sappho likewise [says],

Whether Cyprus, or the spacious-harboured Paphos.246

But he had some other cause besides this for mentioning Sidon immediately after having spoken of the Phœnicians: for had he merely desired to recount the nations in order, it would have been quite sufficient to say,

Having wandered to Cyprus, Phœnice, and the Egyptians, I came to the Ethiopians.247

But that he might record his sojourn amongst the Sidonians, which was considerably prolonged, he thought it well to refer to it repeatedly. Thus he praises their prosperity and skill in the arts, and alludes to the hospitality the citizens had shown to Helen and Alexander. Thus he tells us of the many [treasures] of this nature laid up in store by Alexander.248

“There his treasures lay,
Works of Sidonian women, whom her son,
The godlike Paris, when he crossed the seas
With Jove-begotten Helen, brought to Troy.”249

And also by Menelaus, who says to Telemachus,

“I give thee this bright beaker, argent all,
But round encircled with a lip of gold.
It is the work of Vulcan, which to me
The hero Phædimus presented, king
Of the Sidonians, when on my return
Beneath his roof I lodged. I make it thine.”250

Here the expression, “work of Vulcan,” must be looked upon as a hyperbole: in the same way all elegant productions are [Pg 66] said to be the work of Minerva, of the Graces, or of the Muses. But that the Sidonians were skilful artists, is clear from the praises bestowed [by Homer] on the bowl which Euneos gave in exchange for Lycaon:

Own’d not its like for elegance of form.
Skilful Sidonian artists had around
Embellish’d it, and o’er the sable deep
Phœnician merchants into Lemnos’ port
Had borne it.”251

34. Many conjectures have been hazarded as to who the Erembi were: they who suppose the Arabs are intended, seem to deserve the most credit.

Our Zeno reads the passage thus:—

I came to the Ethiopians, the Sidonians, and the Arabians.

But there is no occasion to tamper with the text, which is of great antiquity; it is a far preferable course to suppose a change in the name itself, which is of frequent and ordinary occurrence in every nation: and in fact certain grammarians establish this view by a comparison of the radical letters. Posidonius seems to me to adopt the better plan after all, in looking for the etymology of names in nations of one stock and community; thus between the Armenians, Syrians, and Arabians there is a strong affinity both in regard to dialect, mode of life, peculiarities of physical conformation, and above all in the contiguity of the countries. Mesopotamia, which is a motley of the three nations, is a proof of this; for the similarity amongst these three is very remarkable. And though in consequence of the various latitudes there may be some difference between those who dwell in the north252 and those of the south,253 and again between each of these and the inhabitants of the middle region,254 still the same characteristics are dominant in all. Also the Assyrians and Arians have a great affinity both to these people and to each other. And [Posidonius] believes there is a similarity in the names of these different nations. Those whom we call Syrians style themselves Armenians and Arammæans, names greatly like those of the Armenians, Arabs, and Erembi. Perhaps this [last] term [Pg 67] is that by which the Greeks anciently designated the Arabs; the etymon of the word certainly strengthens the idea. Many deduce the etymology of the Erembi from ἔραν ἐμβαίνειν, (to go into the earth,) which [they say] was altered by the people of a later generation into the more intelligible name of Troglodytes,255 by which are intended those Arabs who dwell on that side of the Arabian Gulf next to Egypt and Ethiopia. It is probable then that the poet describes Menelaus as having visited these people in the same way that he says he visited the Ethiopians; for they are likewise near to the Thebaid; and he mentions them not on account of any commerce or gain, (for of these there was not much,) but probably to enhance the length of the journey and his meed of praise: for such distant travelling was highly thought of. For example,—

“Discover’d various cities, and the mind
And manners learn’d of men in lands remote.”256

And again:

“After numerous toils
And perilous wanderings o’er the stormy deep,
In the eighth year at last I brought them home.”257

Hesiod, in his Catalogue,258 writes,

And the daughter of Arabus, whom gracious Hermes and Thronia, descended from king Belus, brought forth.

Thus, too, says Stesichorus. Whence it seems that at that time the country was from him named Arabia, though it is not likely this was the case in the heroic period.259

35. There are many who would make the Erembi a tribe of the Ethiopians, or of the Cephenes, or again of the Pygmies, and a thousand other fancies. These ought to be regarded with little trust; since their opinion is not only incredible, but they evidently labour under a certain confusion as to the [Pg 68] different characters of history and fable. In the same category must be reckoned those who place the Sidonians and Phœnicians in the Persian Gulf, or somewhere else in the Ocean, and make the wanderings of Menelaus to have happened there. Not the least cause for mistrusting these writers is the manner in which they contradict each other. One half would have us believe that the Sidonians are a colony from the people whom they describe as located on the shores of the [Indian] Ocean, and who they say were called Phœnicians from the colour of the Erythræan Sea, while the others declare the opposite.260

Some again would transport Ethiopia into our Phœnicia, and make Joppa the scene of the adventures of Andromeda;261 and this not from any ignorance of the topography of those places, but by a kind of mythic fiction similar to those of Hesiod and other writers censured by Apollodorus, who, however, couples Homer with them, without, as it appears, any cause. He cites as instances what Homer relates of the Euxine and Egypt, and accuses him of ignorance for pretending to speak the actual truth, and then recounting fable, all the while ignorantly mistaking it for fact. Will any one then accuse Hesiod of ignorance on account of his Hemicynes,262 his Macrocephali,263 and his Pygmies; or Homer for his like fables, and amongst others the Pygmies themselves; or Alcman264 for describing the Steganopodes;265 or Æschylus for his Cynocephali,266 Sternophthalmi,267 and Monommati;268 when amongst prose writers, and in works bearing the appearance of veritable history, we frequently meet with similar narrations, and that without any admission of their having inserted such myths. Indeed it becomes immediately evident that they have woven together a tissue of myths not through ignorance [Pg 69] of the real facts, but merely to amuse by a deceptive narration of the impossible and marvellous. If they appear to do this in ignorance, it is because they can romance more frequently and with greater plausibility on those things which are uncertain and unknown. This Theopompus plainly confesses in the announcement of his intention to relate the fables in his history in a better style than Herodotus, Ctesias, Hellanicus, and those who had written on the affairs of India.

36. Homer has described to us the phenomena of the ocean under the form of a myth; this [art] is very desirable in a poet; the idea of his Charybdis was taken from the ebb and flow of the tide, and was by no means a pure invention of his own, but derived from what he knew concerning the Strait of Sicily.269 And although he states that the ebb and flow occurred thrice during the four and twenty hours, instead of twice,

“(Each day she thrice disgorges, and each day
Thrice swallows it,”)270

we must suppose that he said this not through any ignorance of the fact, but for tragic effect, and to excite the fear which Circe endeavours to infuse into her arguments to deter Ulysses from departing, even at a little expense of truth. The following is the language Circe makes use of in her speech to him:

“Each day she thrice disgorges, and each day
Thrice swallows it. Ah! well-forewarn’d beware
What time she swallows, that thou come not nigh,
For not himself, Neptune, could snatch thee thence.”271

And yet when Ulysses was ingulfed in the eddy he was not lost. He tells us himself,

“It was the time when she absorb’d profound
The briny flood, but by a wave upborne,
I seized the branches fast of the wild fig,
To which bat-like I clung.”272

[Pg 70] And then having waited for the timbers of the wreck he seized hold of them, and thus saved himself. Circe, therefore, had exaggerated both the peril, and also the fact of its vomiting forth thrice a day instead of twice. However, this latter is a hyperbole which every one makes use of; thus we say thrice-happy and thrice-miserable.

So the poet,

“Thrice-happy Greeks!”273


“O delightful, thrice-wished for!”274

And again,

“O thrice and four times.”275

Any one, too, might conclude from the passage itself that Homer even here hinted at the truth, for the long time which the remains of the wreck lay under water, which Ulysses, who was all the while hanging suspended to the branches, so anxiously desired to rise, accords much better with the ebb and flow taking place but twice during the night and day instead of thrice.

“Therefore hard
I clench’d the boughs, till she disgorged again
Both keel and mast. Not undesired by me
They came, though late; for at what hour the judge,
After decision made of numerous strifes
Between young candidates for honour, leaves
The forum, for refreshment’s sake at home,
Then was it that the mast and keel emerged.”276

Every word of this indicates a considerable length of time, especially when he prolongs it to the evening, not merely saying at that time when the judge has risen, but having adjudicated on a vast number of cases, and therefore detained longer than usual. Otherwise his account of the return of the wreck would not have appeared likely, if he had brought it back again with the return of the wave, before it had been first carried a long way off.

37. Apollodorus, who agrees with Eratosthenes, throws much blame upon Callimachus for asserting, in spite of his [Pg 71] character as a grammarian, that Gaudus277 and Corcyra278 were among the scenes of Ulysses’ wandering, such an opinion being altogether in defiance of Homer’s statement, and his description of the places as situated in the exterior ocean.279

This criticism is just if we suppose the wandering to have never actually occurred, and to be merely the result of Homer’s imagination; but if it did take place, although in other regions, Apollodorus ought plainly to have stated which they were, and thus set right the mistake of Callimachus. Since, however, after such evidence as we have produced, we cannot believe the whole account to be a fiction, and since no other more likely places have as yet been named, we hold that the grammarian is absolved from blame.

38. Demetrius of Skepsis is also wrong, and, in fact, the cause of some of the mistakes of Apollodorus. He eagerly objects to the statement of Neanthes of Cyzicus, that the Argonauts, when they sailed to the Phasis,280 founded at Cyzicus the temples of the Idæan Mother.281 Though their voyage is attested both by Homer and other writers, he denies that Homer had any knowledge whatever of the departure of Jason to the Phasis. In so doing, he not only contradicts the very words of Homer, but even his own assertions. The poet informs us that Achilles, having ravaged Lesbos282 and other districts, spared Lemnos283 and the adjoining islands, on account of his relationship with Jason and his son Euneos,284 who then had possession of the island. How should he know of a relationship, identity of race, or other connexion existing between Achilles and Jason, which, after all, was nothing else than that they were both Thessalians, one being of Iolcos,285 the other of the Achæan Pthiotis,286 and yet [Pg 72] was not aware how it happened that Jason, who was a Thessalian of Iolcos, should leave no descendants in the land of his nativity, but establish his son as ruler of Lemnos? Homer then was familiar with the history of Pelias and the daughters of Pelias, of Alcestis, who was the most charming of them all, and of her son

“Eumelus, whom Alcestis, praised
For beauty above all her sisters fair,
In Thessaly to king Admetus bore,”287

and was yet ignorant of all that befell Jason, and Argo, and the Argonauts, matters on the actual occurrence of which all the world is agreed. The tale then of their voyage in the ocean from Æeta, was a mere fiction, for which he had no authority in history.

39. If, however, the expedition to the Phasis, fitted out by Pelias, its return, and the conquest of several islands, have at the bottom any truth whatever, as all say they have, so also has the account of their wanderings, no less than those of Ulysses and Menelaus; monuments of the actual occurrence of which remain to this day elsewhere than in the writings of Homer. The city of Æa, close by the Phasis, is still pointed out. Æetes is generally believed to have reigned in Colchis, the name is still common throughout the country, tales of the sorceress Medea are yet abroad, and the riches of the country in gold, silver, and iron, proclaim the motive of Jason’s expedition, as well as of that which Phrixus had formerly undertaken. Traces both of one and the other still remain. Such is Phrixium,288 midway between Colchis and Iberia, and the Jasonia, or towns of Jason, which are every where met with in Armenia, Media, and the surrounding countries. Many are the witnesses to the reality of the expeditions of Jason and Phrixus at Sinope289 and its shore, at Propontis, at the Hellespont, and even at Lemnos. Of Jason and his Colchian followers there are traces even as far as Crete,290 Italy, and the Adriatic. Callimachus himself alludes to it where he says,

[Pg 73]

”[The temple of] Apollo and [the Isle of] Anaphe,291
Near to Laconian Thera.”292

In the verses which commence,

“I sing how the heroes from Cytæan Æeta,
Return’d again to ancient Æmonia.”293

And again concerning the Colchians, who,

“Ceasing to plough with oars the Illyrian Sea,294
Near to the tomb of fair Harmonia,
Who was transform’d into a dragon’s shape,
Founded their city, which a Greek would call
The Town of Fugitives, but in their tongue
Is Pola named.”

Some writers assert that Jason and his companions sailed high up the Ister, others say he sailed only so far as to be able to gain the Adriatic: the first statement results altogether from ignorance; the second, which supposes there is a second Ister having its source from the larger river of the same name, and discharging its waters into the Adriatic, is neither incredible nor even improbable.295

40. Starting from these premises, the poet, in conformity both with general custom and his own practice, narrates some circumstances as they actually occurred, and paints others in the colours of fiction. He follows history when he tells us of Æetes and Jason also, when he talks of Argo, and on the authority of [the actual city of Æa], feigns his city of Ææa, when he settles Euneos in Lemnos, and makes that island friendly to Achilles, and when, in imitation of Medea, he makes the sorceress Circe

“Sister by birth of the all-wise Æetes,”296

he adds the fiction of the entrance of the Argonauts into the exterior ocean as the sequel to their wanderings on their return home. Here, supposing the previous statements admitted, the truth of the phrase “the renowned Argo,”297 is evident, [Pg 74] since, in that case, the expedition was directed to a populous and well-known country. But if, as [Demetrius] of Skepsis asserts, on the authority of Mimnermus, Æetes dwelt by the Ocean, and Jason was sent thither far east by Pelias, to bring back the fleece, it neither seems probable that such an expedition would have been undertaken into unknown and obscure countries after the Fleece, nor could a voyage to lands desert, uninhabited, and so far remote from us, be considered either glorious or renowned.

[Here follow the words of Demetrius.]

“Nor as yet had Jason, having accomplished the arduous journey, carried off the splendid fleece from Æa, fulfilling the dangerous mission of the insolent Pelias, nor had they ploughed the glorious wave of the ocean.”

And again:

“The city of Æetes, where the rays of the swift sun recline on their golden bed by the shore of the ocean, which the noble Jason visited.”


1. Eratosthenes is guilty of another fault in so frequently referring to the works of men beneath his notice, sometimes for the purpose of refuting them; at others, when he agrees with them, in order to cite them as authorities. I allude to Damastes, and such as him, who even when they speak the truth, are utterly unworthy of being appealed to as authorities, or vouchers for the credibility of a statement. For such purposes the writings of trustworthy men should only be employed, who have accurately described much; and though perhaps they may have omitted many points altogether, and barely touched on others, are yet never guilty of wilfully falsifying their statements. To cite Damastes as an authority is little better than to quote the Bergæan,298 or Euemerus the Messenian, and those other scribblers whom Eratosthenes [Pg 75] himself sneers at for their absurdities. Why, he even points out as one of the follies of this Damastes, his observation that the Arabian Gulf was a lake;299 likewise the statement that Diotimus, the son of Strombicus and chief of the Athenian legation, sailed through Cilicia up the Cydnus300 into the river Choaspes,301 which flows by Susa,302 and so arrived at that capital after forty days’ journey. This particular he professes to state on the authority of Diotimus himself, and then expresses his wonder whether the Cydnus could actually cross the Euphrates and Tigris in order to disgorge itself into the Choaspes.303

2. However, this is not all we have to say against him. Of many places he tells us that nothing is known, when in fact they have every one been accurately described. Then he warns us to be very cautious in believing what we are told on such matters, and endeavours by long and tedious arguments to show the value of his advice; swallowing at the same time the most ridiculous absurdities himself concerning the Euxine and Adriatic. Thus he believed the Bay of Issus304 to be the most easterly point of the Mediterranean, though Dioscurias,305 which is nearly at the bottom of the Pontus Euxinus, is, according to his own calculations, farther east by a distance of 3000 stadia.306 In describing the northern and farther parts of the Adriatic he cannot refrain from similar romancing, and gives credit to many strange narrations concerning what lies beyond the Pillars of Hercules, informing us of an Isle of Kerne there, and other places now nowhere to be found, which we shall speak of presently.

Having remarked that the ancients, whether out on piratical [Pg 76] excursions, or for the purposes of commerce, never ventured into the high seas, but crept along the coast, and instancing Jason, who leaving his vessels at Colchis penetrated into Armenia and Media on foot, he proceeds to tell us that formerly no one dared to navigate either the Euxine or the seas by Libya, Syria, and Cilicia. If by formerly he means periods so long past that we possess no record of them, it is of little consequence to us whether they navigated those seas or not, but if [he speaks] of times of which we know any thing, and if we are to place any trust in the accounts which have come down to us, every one will admit that the ancients appear to have made longer journeys both by sea and land than their successors; witness Bacchus, Hercules, nay Jason himself, and again Ulysses and Menelaus, of whom Homer tells us. It seems most probable that Theseus and Pirithous are indebted to some long voyages for the credit they afterwards obtained of having visited the infernal regions; and in like manner the Dioscuri307 gained the appellation of guardians of the sea, and the deliverers of sailors.308 The sovereignty of the seas exercised by Minos, and the navigation carried on by the Phœnicians, is well known. A little after the period of the Trojan war they had penetrated beyond the Pillars of Hercules, and founded cities as well there as to the midst of the African coast.309 Is it not correct to number amongst the ancients Æneas,310 Antenor,311 the Heneti, and all the crowd of warriors, who, after the destruction of Troy, wandered over the face of the whole earth? For at the conclusion of the war [Pg 77] both the Greeks and Barbarians found themselves deprived, the one of their livelihood at home, the other of the fruits of their expedition; so that when Troy was overthrown, the victors, and still more the vanquished, who had survived the conflict, were compelled by want to a life of piracy; and we learn that they became the founders of many cities along the sea-coast beyond Greece,312 besides several inland settlements.313

3. Again, having discoursed on the advance of knowledge respecting the Geography of the inhabited earth, between the time of Alexander and the period when he was writing, Eratosthenes goes into a description of the figure of the earth; not merely of the habitable earth, an account of which would have been very suitable, but of the whole earth, which should certainly have been given too, but not in this disorderly manner. He proceeds to tell us that the earth is spheroidal, not however perfectly so, inasmuch as it has certain irregularities, he then enlarges on the successive changes of its form, occasioned by water, fire, earthquakes, eruptions, and the like; all of which is entirely out of place, for the spheroidal form of the whole earth is the result of the system of the universe, and the phenomena which he mentions do not in the least change its general form; such little matters being entirely lost in the great mass of the earth. Still they cause various peculiarities in different parts of our globe, and result from a variety of causes.

4. He points out as a most interesting subject for disquisition the fact of our finding, often quite inland, two or three thousand stadia from the sea, vast numbers of muscle, oyster, and scallop-shells, and salt-water lakes.314 He gives as an [Pg 78] instance, that about the temple of Ammon,315 and along the road to it for the space of 3000 stadia, there are yet found a vast amount of oyster shells, many salt-beds, and salt springs bubbling up, besides which are pointed out numerous fragments of wreck which they say have been cast up through some opening, and dolphins placed on pedestals with the inscription, Of the delegates from Cyrene. Herein he agrees with the opinion of Strato the natural philosopher, and Xanthus of Lydia. Xanthus mentioned that in the reign of Artaxerxes there was so great a drought, that every river, lake, and well was dried up: and that in many places he had seen a long way from the sea fossil shells, some like cockles, others resembling scallop shells, also salt lakes in Armenia, Matiana,316 and Lower Phrygia, which induced him to believe that sea had formerly been where the land now was. Strato, who went more deeply into the causes of these phenomena, was of opinion that formerly there was no exit to the Euxine as now at Byzantium, but that the rivers running into it had forced a way through, and thus let the waters escape into the Propontis, and thence to the Hellespont.317 And that a like change had occurred in the Mediterranean. For the sea being overflowed by the rivers, had opened for itself a passage by the Pillars of Hercules, and thus, much that was formerly covered by water, had been left dry.318 He gives as the cause of this, that anciently the levels of the Mediterranean and Atlantic were not the same, and states that a bank of earth, the remains of the ancient separation of the two seas, is still stretched under water from Europe to Africa. He adds, that the Euxine is the most shallow, and the seas of Crete, Sicily, and Sardinia much deeper, which is occasioned by the number of large [Pg 79] rivers flowing into the Euxine both from the north and east, and so filling it up with mud, whilst the others preserve their depth. This is the cause of the remarkable sweetness of the Euxine Sea, and of the currents which regularly set towards the deepest part. He gives it as his opinion, that should the rivers continue to flow in the same direction, the Euxine will in time be filled up [by the deposits], since already the left side of the sea is little else than shallows, as also Salmydessus,319 and the shoals at the mouth of the Ister, and the desert of Scythia,320 which the sailors call the Breasts. Probably too the temple of Ammon was originally close to the sea, though now, by the continual deposit of the waters, it is quite inland: and he conjectures that it was owing to its being so near the sea that it became so celebrated and illustrious, and that it never would have enjoyed the credit it now possesses had it always been equally remote from the sea. Egypt too [he says] was formerly covered by sea as far as the marshes near Pelusium,321 Mount Casius,322 and the Lake Sirbonis.323 Even at the present time, when salt is being dug in Egypt, the beds are found under layers of sand and mingled with fossil shells, as if this district had formerly been under water, and as if the whole region about Casium and Gerrha324 had been shallows reaching to the Arabian Gulf. The sea afterwards receding left the land uncovered, and the Lake Sirbonis remained, which having afterwards forced itself a passage, became a marsh. In like manner the borders of the Lake Mœris resemble a sea-beach rather than the banks of a river. Every one will admit that formerly at various periods a great portion of the mainland has been covered and again left bare by the sea. Likewise that the land now covered by the sea is not all on the same level, any more than that whereon we dwell; which is now [Pg 80] uncovered and has experienced so many changes, as Eratosthenes has observed. Consequently in the reasoning of Xanthus there does not appear to be any thing out of place.

5. In regard to Strato, however, we must remark that, leaving out of the question the many arguments he has properly stated, some of those which he has brought forward are quite inadmissible. For first he is inaccurate in stating that the beds of the interior and the exterior seas have not the same level, and that the depth of those two seas is different: whereas the cause why the sea is at one time raised, at another depressed, that it inundates certain places and again retreats, is not that the beds have different levels, some higher and some lower, but simply this, that the same beds are at one time raised, at another depressed, causing the sea to rise or subside with them; for having risen they cause an inundation, and when they subside the waters return to their former places. For if it is so, an inundation will of course accompany every sudden increase of the waters of the sea, [as in the spring-tides,] or the periodical swelling of rivers, in the one instance the waters being brought together from distant parts of the ocean, in the other, their volume being increased. But the risings of rivers are not violent and sudden, nor do the tides continue any length of time, nor occur irregularly; nor yet along the coasts of our sea do they cause inundations, nor any where else. Consequently we must seek for an explanation of the cause either in the stratum composing the bed of the sea, or in that which is overflowed; we prefer to look for it in the former, since by reason of its humidity it is more liable to shiftings and sudden changes of position, and we shall find that in these matters the wind is the great agent after all. But, I repeat it, the immediate cause of these phenomena, is not in the fact of one part of the bed of the ocean being higher or lower than another, but in the upheaving or depression of the strata on which the waters rest. Strato’s hypothesis evidently originated in the belief that that which occurs in rivers is also the case in regard to the sea; viz. that there is a flow of water from the higher places. Otherwise he would not have attempted to account for the current he observed at the Strait of Byzantium in the manner he does, attributing it to the bed of the Euxine being [Pg 81] higher than that of the Propontis and adjoining ocean, and even attempting to explain the cause thereof: viz. that the bed of the Euxine is filled up and choked by the deposit of the rivers which flow into it; and its waters in consequence driven out into the neighbouring sea. The same theory he would apply in respect to the Mediterranean and Atlantic, alleging that the bed of the former is higher than that of the latter in consequence of the number of rivers which flow into it, and the alluvium they carry along with them. In that case there ought to be a like influx at the Pillars and Calpe,325 as there is at Byzantium. But I waive this objection, as it might be asserted that the influx was the same in both places, but owing to the interference of the ebb and flow of the sea, became imperceptible.

6. I rather make this inquiry:—If there were any reason why, before the outlet was opened at Byzantium, the bed of the Euxine (being deeper than either that of the Propontis326 or of the adjoining sea327) should not gradually have become more shallow by the deposit of the rivers which flow into it, allowing it formerly either to have been a sea, or merely a vast lake greater than the Palus Mæotis? This proposition being conceded, I would next ask, whether before this the bed of the Euxine would not have been brought to the same level as the Propontis, and in that case, the pressure being counter-poised, the overflowing of the water have been thus avoided; and if after the Euxine had been filled up, the superfluous waters would not naturally have forced a passage and flowed off, and by their commingling and power have caused the Euxine and Propontis to flow into each other, and thus become one sea? no matter, as I said above, whether formerly it were a sea or a lake, though latterly certainly a sea. This also being conceded, they must allow that the present efflux depends neither upon the elevation nor the inclination of the bed, as Strato’s theory would have us consider it.

7. We would apply the same arguments to the whole of the Mediterranean and Atlantic, and account for the efflux of the former, not by any [supposed] difference between the elevation and inclination of its bed and of that of the Atlantic, but [Pg 82] attribute it to the number of rivers which empty themselves into it. Since, according to this supposition, it is not incredible that had the whole of the Mediterranean Sea in times past been but a lake filled by the rivers, and having overflowed, it might have broken through the Strait at the Pillars, as through a cataract; and still continuing to swell more and more, the Atlantic in course of time would have become confluent by that channel, and have run into one level, the Mediterranean thus becoming a sea. In fine, the Physician did wrong in comparing the sea to rivers, for the latter are borne down as a descending stream, but the sea always maintains its level. The currents of straits depend upon other causes, not upon the accumulation of earth formed by the alluvial deposit from rivers, filling up the bed of the sea. This accumulation only goes on at the mouths of rivers. Such are what are called the Stethe or Breasts at the mouth of the Ister,328 the desert of the Scythians, and Salmydessus, which are partially occasioned by other winter-torrents as well; witness the sandy, low, and even coast of Colchis,329 at the mouth of the Phasis,330 the whole of the coast of Themiscyra,331 named the plain of the Amazons, near the mouths of the Thermodon332 and Iris,333 and the greater part of Sidene.334 It is the same with other rivers, they all resemble the Nile in forming an alluvial deposit at their mouths, some more, some less than others. Those rivers which carry but little soil with them deposit least, while others, which traverse an extended and soft country, and receive many torrents in their course, deposit the greatest quantity. Such for example is the river Pyramus,335 by which Cilicia has been considerably augmented, and concerning which an oracle has declared, “This shall occur when the wide waters of the Pyramus have enlarged their banks as far as sacred Cyprus.”336 This river becomes navigable from the middle of the plains of Cataonia, and entering Cilicia337 by the defiles of the Taurus, discharges itself into the sea which flows between that country and the island of Cyprus.

[Pg 83] 8. These river deposits are prevented from advancing further into the sea by the regularity of the ebb and flow, which continually drive them back. For after the manner of living creatures, which go on inhaling and exhaling their breath continually, so the sea in a like way keeps up a constant motion in and out of itself. Any one may observe who stands on the sea-shore when the waves are in motion, the regularity with which they cover, then leave bare, and then again cover up his feet. This agitation of the sea produces a continual movement on its surface, which even when it is most tranquil has considerable force, and so throws all extraneous matters on to the land, and

“Flings forth the salt weed on the shore.”338

This effect is certainly most considerable when the wind is on the water, but it continues when all is hushed, and even when it blows from land the swell is still carried to the shore against the wind, as if by a peculiar motion of the sea itself. To this the verses refer—

“O’er the rocks that breast the flood
Borne turgid, scatter far the showery spray,”339


“Loud sounds the roar of waves ejected wide.”340

9. The wave, as it advances, possesses a kind of power, which some call the purging of the sea, to eject all foreign substances. It is by this force that dead bodies and wrecks are cast on shore. But on retiring it does not possess sufficient power to carry back into the sea either dead bodies, wood, or even the lightest substances, such as cork, which may have been cast out by the waves. And by this means when places next the sea fall down, being undermined by the wave, the earth and the water charged with it are cast back again; and the weight [of the mud] working at the same time in conjunction with the force of the advancing tide, it is the sooner brought to settle at the bottom, instead of being [Pg 84] carried out far into the sea. The force of the river current ceases at a very little distance beyond its mouth. Otherwise, supposing the rivers had an uninterrupted flow, by degrees the whole ocean would be filled in, from the beach onwards, by the alluvial deposits. And this would be inevitable even were the Euxine deeper than the sea of Sardinia, than which a deeper sea has never been sounded, measuring, as it does, according to Posidonius, about 1000 fathoms.341

10. Some, however, may be disinclined to admit this explanation, and would rather have proof from things more manifest to the senses, and which seem to meet us at every turn. Now deluges, earthquakes, eruptions of wind, and risings in the bed of the sea, these things cause the rising of the ocean, as sinking of the bottom causes it to become lower. It is not the case that small volcanic or other islands can be raised up from the sea, and not large ones, nor that all islands can, but not continents, since extensive sinkings of the land no less than small ones have been known; witness the yawning of those chasms which have ingulfed whole districts no less than their cities, as is said to have happened to Bura,342 Bizone,343 and many other towns at the time of earthquakes: and there is no more reason why one should rather think Sicily to have been disjoined from the mainland of Italy than cast up from the bottom of the sea by the fires of Ætna, as the Lipari and Pithecussan344 Isles have been.

11. However, so nice a fellow is Eratosthenes, that though [Pg 85] he professes himself a mathematician,345 he rejects entirely the dictum of Archimedes, who, in his work “On Bodies in Suspension,” says that all liquids when left at rest assume a spherical form, having a centre of gravity similar to that of the earth. A dictum which is acknowledged by all who have the slightest pretensions to mathematical sagacity. He says that the Mediterranean, which, according to his own description, is one entire sea has not the same level even at points quite close to each other; and offers us the authority of engineers for this piece of folly, notwithstanding the affirmation of mathematicians that engineering is itself only one division of the mathematics. He tells us that Demetrius346 intended to cut through the Isthmus of Corinth, to open a passage for his fleet, but was prevented by his engineers, who, having taken measurements, reported that the level of the sea at the Gulf of Corinth was higher than at Cenchrea,347 so that if he cut through the isthmus, not only the coasts near Ægina, but even Ægina itself, with the neighbouring islands, would be laid completely under water, while the passage would prove of little value. According to Eratosthenes, it is this which occasions the current in straits, especially the current in the Strait of Sicily,348 where effects similar to the flow and ebb of the tide are remarked. The current there changes twice in the course of a day and night, like as in that period the tides of the sea flow and ebb twice. In the Tyrrhenian sea349 the current which is called descendent, and which runs towards the sea of Sicily, as if it followed an inclined plane, corresponds to the flow of the tide in the ocean. We may remark, that this current corresponds to the flow both in the time of its commencement and cessation. For it commences at the rising and setting of the moon, and recedes when that satellite attains its meridian, whether above [in the zenith] or below the earth [in the nadir]. In the same way occurs the opposite or ascending current, as it is called. It corresponds to [Pg 86] the ebb of the ocean, and commences as soon as the moon has reached either zenith or nadir, and ceases the moment she reaches the point of her rising or setting. [So far Eratosthenes.]

12. The nature of the ebb and flow has been sufficiently treated of by Posidonius and Athenodorus. Concerning the flux and reflux of the currents, which also may be explained by physics, it will suffice our present purpose to observe, that in the various straits these do not resemble each other, but each strait has its own peculiar current. Were they to resemble each other, the current at the Strait of Sicily350 would not change merely twice during the day, (as Eratosthenes himself tells us it does,) and at Chalcis seven times;351 nor again that of Constantinople, which does not change at all, but runs always in one direction from the Euxine to the Propontis, and, as Hipparchus tells us, sometimes ceases altogether. However, if they did all depend on one cause, it would not be that which Eratosthenes has assigned, namely, that the various seas have different levels. The kind of inequality he supposes would not even be found in rivers only for the cataracts; and where these cataracts occur, they occasion no ebbing, but have one continued downward flow, which is caused by the inclination both of the flow and the surface; and therefore though they have no flux or reflux they do not remain still, on account of a principle of flowing which is inherent in them; at the same time they cannot be on the same level, but one must be higher and one lower than another. But who ever imagined the surface of the ocean to be on a slope, especially those who follow a system which supposes the four bodies we call elementary, to be spherical.352 For water is not like the earth, which being of a solid nature is capable of permanent depressions and risings, but by its force of gravity spreads equally over the earth, [Pg 87] and assumes that kind of level which Archimedes has assigned it.

13. To what we cited before concerning the temple of Ammon and Egypt, Eratosthenes adds, that to judge from appearances, Mount Casius353 was formerly covered by sea, and the whole district now known as Gerra lay under shoal water touching the bay of the Erythræan Sea,354 but was left dry on the union355 of the [Mediterranean] Sea [with the ocean]. A certain amphibology lurks here under this description of the district lying under shoal water and touching the bay of the Erythræan Sea; for to touch356 both means to be close to, and also to be in actual contact with, so that when applied to water it would signify that one flows into the other. I understand him to mean, that so long as the strait by the Pillars of Hercules remained closed, these marshes covered with shoal-water extended as far as the Arabian Gulf, but on that passage being forced open, the Mediterranean, discharging itself by the strait, became lower, and the land was left dry.

On the other hand, Hipparchus understands by the term touching, that the Mediterranean, being over-full, flowed into the Erythræan Sea, and he inquires how it could happen, that as the Mediterranean flowed out by this new vent at the Pillars of Hercules, the Erythræan Sea, which was all one with it, did not flow away too, and thus become lower, but has always retained the same level? and since Eratosthenes supposes the whole exterior sea to be confluent, it follows that the Western Ocean357 and the Erythræan Sea are all one; and thus [remarks Hipparchus] as a necessary consequence, the sea beyond the Pillars of Hercules, the Erythræan Sea, and that also which is confluent with it,358 have all the same level.

[Pg 88] 14. But, Eratosthenes would reply, I never said that, in consequence of the repletion of the Mediterranean, it actually flowed into the Erythræan Sea, but only that it approached very near thereto: besides, it does not follow, that in one and the self-same sea, the level of its surface must be all the same; to instance the Mediterranean itself, no one, surely, will say it is of the same height at Lechæum359 and at Cenchrea.360 This answer Hipparchus anticipated in his Critique; and being aware of the opinion of Eratosthenes, was justified in attacking his arguments. But he ought not to have taken it for granted, that when Eratosthenes said the exterior sea was all one, he necessarily implied that its level was every where the same.

15. Hipparchus rejects as false the [account] of the inscription on the dolphins “by the delegates from Cyrene,” but the reason he assigns for this is insufficient, viz. that though Cyrene was built in times of which we have record, no one mentions the oracle,361 as being situated on the sea-shore. But what matters is that no historian has recorded this, when amongst the other proofs from which we infer that this place was formerly on the sea-shore, we number this of the dolphins which were set up, and the inscription, “by the delegates from Cyrene?”362 Hipparchus agrees that if the bottom of the sea were raised up, it would lift the water with it, and might therefore overflow the land as far as the locality of the oracle, or more than 3000 stadia from the shore; but he will not allow that the rising would be sufficient to overflow the Island of Pharos and the major portion of Egypt, since [he says] the elevation would not be sufficient to submerge these. He alleges that if before the opening of the passage at the Pillars of Hercules, the Mediterranean had been swollen to such an extent as Eratosthenes affirms, the whole of Libya, and the greater part of Europe and Asia, must long ago have been buried beneath its [Pg 89] waves. Besides, he adds, in this case the Euxine would in certain places have been connected with the Adriatic, since in the vicinity of the Euxine, [near to its source,]363 the Ister is divided in its course, and flows into either sea, owing to the peculiarities of the ground.364 To this we object, that the Ister does not take its rise at all in the vicinity of the Euxine, but, on the contrary, beyond the mountains of the Adriatic; neither does it flow into both the seas, but into the Euxine alone, and only becomes divided just above its mouths. This latter, however, was an error into which he fell in common with many of his predecessors. They supposed that there was another river in addition to the former Ister, bearing the same name, which emptied itself into the Adriatic, and from which the country of Istria, through which it flowed, gained that appellation. It was by this river they believed Jason returned on his voyage from Colchis.

16. In order to lessen surprise at such changes as we have mentioned as causes of the inundations and other similar phenomena which are supposed to have produced Sicily, the islands of Æolus,365 and the Pithecussæ, it may be as well to compare with these others of a similar nature, which either now are, or else have been observed in other localities. A large array of such facts placed at once before the eye would serve to allay our astonishment; while that which is uncommon startles our perception, and manifests our general ignorance of the occurrences which take place in nature and physical existence. For instance, supposing any one should narrate the circumstances concerning Thera and the Therasian Islands, situated in the strait between Crete and the Cyrenaic,366 Thera being itself the metropolis of Cyrene; or those [in connexion [Pg 90] with] Egypt, and many parts of Greece. For midway between Thera and Therasia flames rushed forth from the sea for the space of four days; causing the whole of it to boil and be all on fire; and after a little an island twelve stadia in circumference, composed of the burning mass, was thrown up, as if raised by machinery. After the cessation of this phenomenon, the Rhodians, then masters of the sea, were the first who dared to sail to the place, and they built there on the island a temple to the Asphalian367 Neptune. Posidonius remarks, that during an earthquake which occurred in Phœnicia, a city situated above Sidon was swallowed up, and that nearly two-thirds of Sidon also fell, but not suddenly, and therefore with no great loss of life. That the same occurred, though in a lighter form, throughout nearly the whole of Syria, and was felt even in some of the Cyclades and the Island of Eubœa,368 so that the fountains of Arethusa, a spring in Chalcis, were completely obstructed, and after some time forced for themselves another opening, and the whole island ceased not to experience shocks until a chasm was rent open in the earth in the plain of Lelanto,369 from which poured a river of burning mud.

17. Many writers have recorded similar occurrences, but it will suffice us to narrate those which have been collected by Demetrius of Skepsis.

Apropos of that passage of Homer:—

“And now they reach’d the running rivulets clear,
Where from Scamander’s dizzy flood arise
Two fountains, tepid one, from which a smoke
Issues voluminous as from a fire,
The other, even in summer heats, like hail
For cold, or snow, or crystal stream frost-bound:”370

this writer tells us we must not be surprised, that although the cold spring still remains, the hot cannot be discovered; [Pg 91] and says we must reckon the failing of the hot spring as the cause. He goes on to relate certain catastrophes recorded by Democles, how formerly in the reign of Tantalus371 there were great earthquakes in Lydia and Ionia as far as the Troad,372 which swallowed up whole villages and overturned Mount Sipylus;373 marshes then became lakes, and the city of Troy was covered by the waters.374 Pharos, near Egypt, which anciently was an island, may now be called a peninsula, and the same may be said of Tyre and Clazomenæ.375

During my stay at Alexandria in Egypt the sea rose so high near Pelusium376 and Mount Casius377 as to overflow the land, and convert the mountain into an island, so that a journey from Casius into Phœnicia might have been undertaken by water. We should not be surprised therefore if in time to come the isthmus378 which separates the Egyptian sea379 from the Erythræan,380 should part asunder or subside, and becoming a strait, connect the outer and inner seas,381 similarly to what has taken place at the strait of the Pillars.

At the commencement of this work will be found some other narrations of a similar kind, which should be considered at the same time, and which will greatly tend to strengthen our belief both in these works of nature and also in its other changes.

18. The Piræus having been formerly an island, and lying πέραν, or off the shore, is said to have thus received its name. Leucas,382 on the contrary, has been made an island by the Corinthians, who cut through the isthmus which connected it with the shore [of the mainland]. It is concerning this place that Laertes is made to say,

[Pg 92]

“Oh that I possess’d
Such vigour now as when in arms I took
Nericus, continental city fair.”383

Here man devoted his labour to make a separation, in other instances to the construction of moles and bridges. Such is that which connects the island opposite to Syracuse384 with the mainland. This junction is now effected by means of a bridge, but formerly, according to Ibycus, by a pier of picked stones, which he calls elect. Of Bura385 and Helice,386 one has been swallowed by an earthquake, the other covered by the waves. Near to Methone,387 which is on the Hermionic Gulf,388 a mountain seven stadia in height was cast up during a fiery eruption; during the day it could not be approached on account of the heat and sulphureous smell; at night it emitted an agreeable odour, appeared brilliant at a distance, and was so hot that the sea boiled all around it to a distance of five stadia, and appeared in a state of agitation for twenty stadia, the heap being formed of fragments of rock as large as towers. Both Arne and Mideia389 have been buried in the waters of Lake Copaïs.390 These towns the poet in his Catalogue391 thus speaks of;

“Arne claims
A record next for her illustrious sons,
Vine-bearing Arne. Thou wast also there

It seems that several Thracian cities have been submerged by the Lake Bistonis,393 and that now called Aphnitis.394 Some also [Pg 93] affirm that certain cities of Trerus were also overwhelmed, in the neighbourhood of Thrace. Artemita, formerly one of the Echinades,395 is now part of the mainland; the same has happened to some other of the islets near the Achelous, occasioned, it is said, in the same way, by the alluvium carried into the sea by that river, and Hesiod396 assures us that a like fate awaits them all. Some of the Ætolian promontories were formerly islands. Asteria,397 called by Homer Asteris, is no longer what it was.

“There is a rocky isle
In the mid-sea, Samos the rude between
And Ithaca, not large, named Asteris.
It hath commodious havens, into which
A passage clear opens on either side.”398

There is no good anchorage there now. Neither is there in Ithaca the cavern, nor yet the temple of the nymphs described to us by Homer. It seems more correct to attribute this to change having come over the places, than either to the ignorance or the romancing of the poet. This however, being uncertain, must be left to every man’s opinion.

19. Myrsilus tells us that Antissa399 was formerly an island, and so called because it was opposite to Lesbos,400 then named Issa. Now, however, it forms one of the towns of Lesbos.401 Some have believed that Lesbos itself has been disjoined from Mount Ida in the same way as Prochytas402 and Pithecussa403 from Misenum,404 Capreæ405 from the Athenæum, Sicily from [Pg 94] Rhegium,406 and Ossa from Olympus.407 Many changes similar to these have occurred elsewhere. The river Ladon in Arcadia ceased for some time its flow. Duris informs us that the Rhagæ408 in Media gained that appellation from chasms made in the ground near the Gates of the Caspian409 by earthquakes, in which many cities and villages were destroyed, and the rivers underwent various changes. Ion, in his satirical composition of Omphale, has said of Eubœa,

“The light wave of the Euripus has divided the land of Eubœa from Bœotia; separating the projecting land by a strait.”

20. Demetrius of Callatis, speaking of the earthquakes which formerly occurred throughout the whole of Greece, states that a great portion of the Lichadian Islands and of Kenæum410 were submerged; that the hot springs of Ædepsus411 and Thermopylæ were suppressed for three days, and that when they commenced to run again those of Ædepsus gushed from new fountains. That at Oreus412 on the sea-coast the wall and nearly seven hundred houses fell at once. That the greater part of Echinus,413 Phalara,414 and Heraclæa of Trachis415 were thrown down, Phalara being overturned from its very foundations. That almost the same misfortune occurred to the Lamians416 and inhabitants of Larissa; that Scarpheia417 was overthrown from its foundations, not less than one thousand seven hundred persons being swallowed up, and at [Pg 95] Thronium418 more than half that number. That a torrent of water gushed forth taking three directions, one to Scarphe and Thronium, another to Thermopylæ, and a third to the plains of Daphnus in Phocis. That the springs of [many] rivers were for several days dried up; that the course of the Sperchius419 was changed, thus rendering navigable what formerly were highways; that the Boagrius420 flowed through another channel; that many parts of Alope, Cynus, and Opus were injured,421 and the castle of Œum, which commands the latter city, entirely overturned. That part of the wall of Elateia422 was thrown down; and that at Alponus,423 during the celebration of the games in honour of Ceres, twenty-five maidens, who had mounted a tower to enjoy the show exhibited in the port, were precipitated into the sea by the falling of the tower. They also record that a large fissure was made [by the water] through the midst of the island of Atalanta,424 opposite Eubœa,425 sufficient for ships to sail in; that the course of the channel was in places as broad as twenty stadia between the plains; and that a trireme being raised [thereby] out of the docks, was carried over the walls.

21. Those who desire to instil into us that more perfect freedom from [ignorant] wonder, which Democritus and all other philosophers so highly extol, should add the changes which have been produced by the migrations of various tribes: we should thus be inspired with courage, steadiness, and composure. For instance, the Western Iberians,426 removed to the regions beyond the Euxine and Colchis, being separated from Armenia, [Pg 96] according to Apollodorus, by the Araxes,427 but rather by the Cyrus428 and Moschican mountains.429 The expedition of the Egyptians into Ethiopia430 and Colchis. The migration of the Heneti,431 who passed from Paphlagonia into the country bordering on the Adriatic Gulf. Similar emigrations were also undertaken by the nations of Greece, the Ionians, Dorians, Achaians, and Æolians; and the Ænians,432 now next neighbours to the Ætolians, formerly dwelt near Dotium433 and Ossa, beyond the Perrhæbi;434 the Perrhæbi too are but wanderers here themselves. Our present work furnishes numerous instances of the same kind. Some of these are familiar to most readers, but the migrations of the Carians, the Treres, the Teucrians, and the Galatæ or Gauls,435 are not so generally known. Nor yet for the most part are the expeditions of their chiefs, for instance, Madys the Scythian, Tearko the Ethiopian, Cobus of Trerus, Sesostris and Psammeticus the Egyptians; nor are those of the Persians from Cyrus to Xerxes familiar to every one. The Kimmerians, or a separate tribe of them, called the Treres, have frequently overrun the countries to the right of the Euxine and those adjacent to them, bursting now into Paphlagonia, now into Phrygia, as they did when, according to report, Midas436 came to his death by drinking bull’s blood. Lygdamis led his followers into Lydia, passed through Ionia, took Sardis, but was slain in Cilicia. The Kimmerians and Treres frequently made similar incursions, until at last, as it is reported, these latter, together with [their chief] Cobus, were [Pg 97] driven out by Madys, king of the “Scythians.”437 But enough has been said in this place on the general history of the earth, as each country will have a particular account.

22. We must now return to the point whence we digressed. Herodotus having observed that there could be no such people as Hyperboreans, inasmuch as there were no Hypernotii,438 Eratosthenes calls this argument ridiculous, and compares it to the sophism, that there are no epichærekaki,439 inasmuch as there are no epichæragathi;440 [adding] perhaps there are Hypernotii; since at all events in Ethiopia Notus does not blow, although lower down it does.

It would indeed be strange, since winds blow under every latitude, and especially the southern wind called Notus, if any region could be found where this latter was not felt. On the contrary, not only does Ethiopia experience our Notus, but also the whole country which lies above as far as the equator.441

If Herodotus must be blamed at all, it is for supposing that the Hyperboreans were so named in consequence of Boreas, or the north wind, not blowing upon them. The poets are allowed much licence in their modes of expression; but their commentators, who endeavour always to give us the correct view, tell us that the people who dwelt in the extreme north, were styled Hyperboreans. The pole is the boundary of the northern [Pg 98] winds, and the equator of the southern; these winds have no other limit.

23. Eratosthenes next finds fault with the writers who fill their narrative with stories evidently feigned and impossible; some as mere fable, but others as history, which did not deserve mention. In the discussion of a subject like his, he should not have wasted his time about such trifles. Such is the way in which this writer completes the First Book of his Memoirs.


1. In his Second Book Eratosthenes endeavours to correct some errors in geography, and offers his own views on the subject, any mistakes in which we shall endeavour in our turn to set right. He is correct in saying that the inductions of mathematics and natural philosophy should be employed, and that if the earth is spheroidal like the universe, it is inhabited in all parts; together with some other things of this nature. Later writers do not agree with him as to the size of the earth,442 nor admit his measurement. However Hipparchus, when noting the celestial appearances for each particular locality, adopts his admeasurements, saying that those taken for the meridian of Meroe,443 Alexandria, and the Dnieper, differ but very slightly from the truth. Eratosthenes then enters into a long discussion concerning the figure of the globe, proving that the form of the earth together with the water is spheroidal, as also the heavens. This however we imagine was foreign to his purpose, and should have been disposed of in the compass of a few words.

2. After this he proceeds to determine the breadth of the habitable earth: he tells us, that measuring from the meridian of Meroe444 to Alexandria, there are 10,000 stadia.

[Pg 99] From thence to the Hellespont445 about 8100. Again; from thence to the Dnieper, 5000; and thence to the parallel of Thule,446 which Pytheas says is six days’ sail north from Britain, and near the Frozen Sea, other 11,500. To which if we add 3400 stadia above Meroe in order to include the Island of the Egyptians,447 the Cinnamon country, and Taprobane,448 there will be in all 38,000 stadia.

3. We will let pass the rest of his distances, since they are something near,—but that the Dnieper is under the same parallel as Thule, what man in his senses could ever agree to this? Pytheas, who has given us the history of Thule, is known to be a man upon whom no reliance can be placed, and other writers who have seen Britain and Ierne,449 although they tell us of many small islands round Britain, make no mention whatever of Thule. The length of Britain itself is nearly the same as that of Keltica,450 opposite to which it extends. Altogether it is not more than 5000 stadia in length, its outermost points corresponding to those of the opposite continent. In fact the extreme points of the two countries lie opposite to each other, the eastern extremity to the eastern, and the western to the western: the eastern points are situated so close as to be within sight of each other, both at Kent and at the mouths of the Rhine. But Pytheas tells us that the island [of Britain] is more than 20,000 stadia in length, and that Kent is some days’ sail from France. With regard to the locality of the Ostimii, and the countries beyond the Rhine,451 as far as Scythia, he is altogether mistaken. The veracity of a writer who has been thus false in describing countries with which we are well acquainted, should not be too much trusted in regard to unknown places.

4. Further, Hipparchus and many others are of opinion that the parallel of latitude of the Dnieper does not differ [Pg 100] from that of Britain; since that of Byzantium and Marseilles are the same. The degree of shadow from the gnomon which Pytheas states he observed at Marseilles being exactly equal to that which Hipparchus says he found at Byzantium; the periods of observation being in both cases similar.452 Now from Marseilles to the centre of Britain is not more than 5000 stadia; and if from the centre of Britain we advance north not more than 4000 stadia, we arrive at a temperature in which it is scarcely possible to exist. Such indeed is that of Ierne.453 Consequently the far region in which Eratosthenes places Thule must be totally uninhabitable. By what guess-work he arrived at the conclusion that between the latitude of Thule and the Dnieper there was a distance of 11,500 stadia I am unable to divine.

5. Eratosthenes being mistaken as to the breadth [of the habitable earth], is necessarily wrong as to its length. The most accurate observers, both ancient and modern, agree that the known length of the habitable earth is more than twice its breadth. Its length I take to be from the [eastern] extremity of India454 to the [westernmost] point of Spain;455 and its breadth from [the south of] Ethiopia to the latitude of Ierne. Eratosthenes, as we have said, reckoning its breadth from the extremity of Ethiopia to Thule, was forced to extend its length beyond the true limits, that he might make it more than twice as long as the breadth he had assigned to it. He says that India, measured where it is narrowest,456 is 16,000 stadia to the river Indus. If measured from its most prominent capes it extends 3000 more.457 Thence to the Caspian Gates, 14,000. From the Caspian Gates to the Euphrates,458 10,000. From [Pg 101] the Euphrates to the Nile, 5000.459 Thence to the Canopic460 mouth, 1300. From the Canopic mouth to Carthage, 13,500. From thence to the Pillars at least 8000. Which make in all 70,800 stadia. To these [he says] should be added the curvature of Europe beyond the Pillars of Hercules, fronting the Iberians, and inclining west, not less than 3000 stadia, and the headlands, including that of the Ostimii, named Cabæum,461 and the adjoining islands, the last of which, named Uxisama,462 is distant, according to Pytheas, a three days’ sail. But he added nothing to its length by enumerating these last, viz. the headlands, including that of the Ostimii, the island of Uxisama, and the rest; they are not situated so as affect the length of the earth, for they all lie to the north, and belong to Keltica, not to Iberia; indeed it seems but an invention of Pytheas. Lastly, to fall in with the general opinion that the breadth ought not463 to exceed half the length, he adds to the stated measure of its length 2000 stadia west, and as many east.

6. Further, endeavouring to support the opinion that it is in accordance with natural philosophy to reckon the greatest dimension of the habitable earth from east to west, he says that, according to the laws of natural philosophy, the habitable earth ought to occupy a greater length from east to west, than its breadth from north to south. The temperate zone, which we have already designated as the longest zone, is that which the mathematicians denominate a continuous circle returning upon itself. So that if the extent of the Atlantic Ocean were not an obstacle, we might easily pass by sea from Iberia to India,464 still keeping in the same parallel; the remaining portion of which parallel, measured as above in stadia, occupies more than a third of the whole circle: since the parallel drawn through Athens,465 on which we have taken the distances from India to Iberia, does not contain in the whole 200,000 stadia.

[Pg 102] Here too his reasoning is incorrect. For this speculation respecting the temperate zone which we inhabit, and whereof the habitable earth is a part, devolves properly on those who make mathematics their study. But it is not equally the province of one treating of the habitable earth. For by this term we mean only that portion of the temperate zone where we dwell, and with which we are acquainted. But it is quite possible that in the temperate zone there may be two or even more habitable earths, especially near the circle of latitude which is drawn through Athens and the Atlantic Ocean. After this he returns to the form of the earth, which he again declares to be spheroidal. Here he exhibits the same churlishness we have previously pointed out, and goes on abusing Homer in his old style. He proceeds:

7. “There has been much argument respecting the continents. Some, considering them to be divided by the rivers Nile and Tanais,466 have described them as islands; while others suppose them to be peninsulas connected by the isthmuses between the Caspian and the Euxine Seas, and between the Erythræan Sea467 and Ecregma.”468 He adds, that this question does not appear to him to be of any practical importance, but rather, as Democritus observed, a bone of contention for angry litigants. Where there are no precise boundary marks, columns, or walls, as at Colyttus and Melitè,469 it is easy for us to say such a place is Colyttus, and such another Melitè; but not so easy to show the exact limits: thus disputes have frequently arisen concerning certain districts; that, for instance, between the Argives and Lacedæmonians concerning [the possession of] Thyrea,470 and that between the Athenians and Bœotians relative to Oropus.471 Further, in giving names to the three continents, the Greeks did not take into consideration the whole habitable earth, but merely their own country and the land exactly opposite, namely, Caria, which is now inhabited by [Pg 103] the Ionians and other neighbouring tribes. In course of time, as they advanced further and daily became acquainted with new countries, this their division came to be general.”

I take this last part first, and (to use Eratosthenes’ own words, not those of Democritus) willing to pick my bone of contention, inquire, whether they who first made the division of the three continents were the same persons as those who first desired to distinguish their own land from that of the Carians opposite, or whether they were only acquainted with Greece, Caria, and some few other adjoining countries, and not with Europe, Asia, or Africa; but that others who followed them, and were able to write a description of the habitable earth, were the real authors of the division into three continents. How did he know that these were not the men who made this division of the habitable earth? And he who divided the earth into three parts, giving to each portion the name of “continent,” could he not form in his mind a just idea of that taken as a whole, which he had so parcelled out. But if indeed he were not acquainted with the whole habitable earth, but merely made a division of some part thereof, pray what portion of that part did he denominate Asia, or Europe, or simply continent? Such talk is altogether nonsense.

8. The reasoning of Eratosthenes, however, is still more absurd, when he declares that he sees no advantage in being acquainted with the exact boundaries of countries, and then cites the example of Colyttus and Melitè, which prove just the contrary of his assertion. Surely if a want of certainty respecting the boundaries of Thyrea and Oropus gave rise to war, a knowledge of the limits of different districts must be of practical importance. Will he tell us that the boundaries of districts, or the limits of kingdoms, may be of some service, but when applied to continents it is carrying the matter too far. We reply, it is of equal consequence here. Suppose a dispute between two powerful princes, one claiming the possession of Asia and the other of Africa, to which of these should Egypt, I mean the country called Lower Egypt, appertain. Will any one pass over such cases on account of their rarity? By no means. It is acknowledged by every one that the limits of each continent ought to be defined by some notable boundary, indicated by the configuration of the whole habitable earth. In following out this principle, we should not be [Pg 104] very particular if they who determine boundaries by the rivers leave some districts undefined, since the rivers do not reach from sea to sea, nor leave the continents altogether as islands.

9. At the close of the book Eratosthenes blames the system of those who would divide all mankind into Greeks and Barbarians, and likewise those who recommended Alexander to treat the Greeks as friends, but the Barbarians as enemies.472 He suggests, as a better course, to distinguish them according to their virtues and their vices, “since amongst the Greeks there are many worthless characters, and many highly civilized are to be found amongst the Barbarians; witness the Indians and Ariani,473 or still better the Romans and Carthaginians, whose political system is so beautifully perfect. Alexander, considering this, disregarded the advice which had been offered him, and patronized without distinction any man he considered to be deserving.” But we would inquire whether those men who thus divided the human race, abandoning one portion to contempt, and exalting to dignity the other, were not actuated to this because they found that on one side justice, knowledge, and the force of reason reigned supreme, but their contraries on the other. Alexander did not disregard the advice tendered him, but gladly embraced and followed it, respecting the wisdom of those who gave it; and so far from taking the opposite course, he closely pursued that which they pointed out.

[Pg 105]



In the Second Book, having proposed for discussion the [opinions] of Eratosthenes, he examines and refutes whatever that writer may have incorrectly said, determined, or laid down. He likewise brings forward many statements of Hipparchus, which he disproves, and finishes with a short exposition or synopsis of the whole subject, namely, geographical knowledge.


1. In the Third Book of his Geography Eratosthenes furnishes us with a chart of the habitable earth. This he divides into two portions, by a line running from east to west parallel to the equator. He makes the Pillars of Hercules the boundary of this line to the west, and to the east the farthest ridges of those mountains which bound India on the north. From the Pillars he draws the line through the Strait of Sicily,474 and the southern extremities of Peloponnesus and Attica, to Rhodes and the Gulf of Issus.475 He says, “Through the whole of this distance the line mentioned is drawn across the sea476 and adjacent continents; the whole length of the Mediterranean as far as Cilicia extending in that direction. Thence it runs nearly in a straight line along the whole chain of the Taurus to India. The Taurus continuing in a straight line from the Pillars divides Asia through its whole length into two halves, north and south. So that both the Taurus and the sea from the Pillars hither477 lie under the parallel of Athens.”

2. He then declares that the ancient geographical chart wants revision; that in it the eastern portion of the Taurus [Pg 106] is made to run too far north, India itself being also too much drawn in the same direction. One proof which he offers in support of this is, that the most southern extremities of India are under the same latitude as Meroe, as attested by many, both from astronomical observations and the temperature of the climate. From thence to the most northerly point by the mountains of the Caucasus,478 there are 15,000 stadia, according to Patrocles, a writer whom we are bound to believe, both on account of his worth, and the vast amount of his geographical attainments. Now since the distance from Meroe to the parallel of Athens is nearly the same, the most northerly points of India next to the Caucasian mountains ought to be under the same degree of latitude.

3. But there is another method (says Eratosthenes) of proving this. The distance from the Gulf of Issus to the Euxine, proceeding in a northerly direction towards Amisus479 and Sinope,480 is about 3000 stadia, which is as much as the supposed extent of the mountains [of the Taurus].481 The traveller who directs his course from Amisus due east,482 arrives first at Colchis, then at the high lands by the Hyrcanian Sea,483 afterwards at the road leading to Bactra,484 and beyond to the Scythians; having the mountains always on the right. The same line drawn through Amisus westward, crosses the Propontis and Hellespont. From Meroe to the Hellespont there are not more than 18,000 stadia.485 The distance is just the same from the southern extremity of India to the land of Bactria, if we add to the 15,000 stadia of that country the 3000 which its mountains occupy in breadth.

4. Hipparchus tries to invalidate this view of Eratosthenes, by sneering at the proofs on which it rests. Patrocles, he says, merits little credit, being contradicted by the two writers [Pg 107] Deimachus and Megasthenes, who say that the distance486 taken from the southern ocean, is in some places 20,000, in others 30,000 stadia; that in this assertion they are supported by the ancient charts, and he considers it absurd to require us to put implicit faith in Patrocles alone, when there is so much testimony against him; or that the ancient charts should be corrected; but rather that they should be left as they are until we have something more certain on the subject.

5. This argument, I think, is in many instances unfounded. Eratosthenes availed himself of the statements of many writers, although Hipparchus alleges he was solely led by Patrocles. Who then are the authors of the statement that the southern extremity of India is under the same parallel as Meroe; and who are they who estimate487 the distance from Meroe to the parallel passing through Athens? Or who, again, were those who asserted that the whole breadth occupied by the mountains488 was equal to the distance from Cilicia to Amisus? Or who made known that, travelling from Amisus, the course lay in a straight line due east through Colchis, the [sea of] Hyrcania, so on to Bactria, and beyond this to the eastern ocean,489 the mountains being always on the right hand; and that this same line carried west in a straight line, traverses the Propontis and the Hellespont? These things Eratosthenes advances on the testimony of men who had been on the spot, and from the study of those numerous memoirs which he had for reference in that noble library490 which Hipparchus himself acknowledges to be gigantic.

6. Besides, the credibility of Patrocles can be proved by a variety of evidence—the princes491 who confided to him so important trusts—the authors who follow his statements—and those, too, who criticise them, whose names Hipparchus has recorded. Since whenever these are refuted, the credit of Patrocles is by so much advanced. Nor does Patrocles appear to state any thing improbable when he says that the army [Pg 108] of Alexander took but a very hasty view of every thing [in India], but Alexander himself a more exact one, causing the whole country to be described by men well acquainted with it. Which description he says was afterwards put into his hands by Xenocles the treasurer.

7. Again, in the second volume of his Commentaries, Hipparchus accuses Eratosthenes of himself throwing discredit on the statement of Patrocles, on account of his differing with Megasthenes, as to the length of India on its northern side;492 Megasthenes stating the length at 16,000 stadia, and Patrocles at 1000 less. Being biased by a certain Itinerary, Eratosthenes was led to reject them both on account of this discrepancy, and to follow the Itinerary. If then merely the difference of 1000 stadia is sufficient to cause the authority of Patrocles to be rejected, how much more should this be the case when we find a difference of 8000 stadia between his statement and that of two writers who agree perfectly in theirs, that the breadth of India is 20,000 stadia, while he gives only 12,000!

8. We reply, that [Eratosthenes] did not object [to the statement of Patrocles] merely because it differed [from that of Megasthenes], but because the statement of this latter as to the stadia was confirmed by the Itinerary, an authority of no mean importance. There is nothing wonderful in this, that though a certain statement may be credible, another may be more credible; and that while in some instances we follow the former, in others we may dissent from it on finding a more trustworthy guide. It is ridiculous to say that the greater the difference of one writer from others, the less he should be trusted. On the contrary, such a rule would be more applicable in regard to small differences; for in little particulars the ordinary observer and the man of great ability are equally liable to err. On the other hand, in great matters, the ordinary run of men are more like to be deceived than the man of superior talent, to whom consequently in such cases greater deference is paid.

9. Generally speaking, the men who hitherto have written on the affairs of India, were a set of liars. Deimachus holds the first place in the list, Megasthenes comes next, while [Pg 109] Onesicritus and Nearchus, with others of the same class, manage to stammer out a few words [of truth]. Of this we became the more convinced whilst writing the history of Alexander. No faith whatever can be placed in Deimachus and Megasthenes. They coined the fables concerning men with ears large enough to sleep in, men without any mouths, without noses, with only one eye, with spider-legs, and with fingers bent backward. They renewed Homer’s fable concerning the battles of the Cranes and Pygmies, and asserted the latter to be three spans high. They told of ants digging for gold, of Pans with wedge-shaped heads, of serpents swallowing down oxen and stags, horns and all; meantime, as Eratosthenes has observed, reciprocally accusing each other of falsehood. Both of these men were sent ambassadors to Palimbothra,493—Megasthenes to Sandrocottus, Deimachus to Allitrochades his son; and such are the notes of their residence abroad, which, I know not why, they thought fit to leave. Patrocles certainly does not resemble them; nor do any other of the authorities consulted by Eratosthenes contain such absurdities.

10. 494If the meridian of Rhodes and Byzantium has been rightly determined to be the same, then that of Cilicia and Amisus has likewise been rightly determined; many observations having proved that the lines are parallel, and that they never impinge on each other.

11. In like manner, that the voyage from Amisus to Colchis, and the route to the Caspian, and thence on to Bactra, are both due east, is proved by the winds, the seasons, the fruits, and even the sun-risings. Frequently evidence such as this, and general agreement, are more to be relied on than the measurement taken by means of instruments. Hipparchus himself was not wholly indebted to instruments and geometrical calculations for his statement that the Pillars and Cilicia lie in a direct line due east. For [Pg 110] that part of it included between the Pillars and the Strait of Sicily he rests entirely on the assertion of sailors. It is therefore incorrect to say that, because we cannot exactly determine the duration of the longest and shortest days, nor the degree of shadow of the gnomon throughout the mountainous region between Cilicia and India, that therefore we are unable to decide whether the line traced obliquely on the ancient charts should or should not be parallel, and consequently must leave it unreformed, keeping it oblique as the ancient charts have it. For in the first place, not to determine any thing is to leave it undetermined; and to leave a thing undetermined, is neither to take one view of the matter nor the other: but to agree to leave it as the ancients have, that is to take a view of the case. It would have been more consistent with his reasoning, if he had told us to leave Geography alone altogether, since we are similarly unable to determine the position of the Alps, the Pyrenees, and the mountains of Thrace,495 Illyria,496 and Germany. Wherefore should we give more credit to the ancient writers than to the modern, when we call to mind the numerous errors of their charts which have been pointed out by Eratosthenes, and which Hipparchus has not attempted to defend.

12. But the system of Hipparchus altogether teems with difficulties. Reflect for an instant on the following absurdity; after admitting that the southern extremity of India is under the same degree of latitude as Meroe, and that the distance from Meroe to the Strait of Byzantium is about 18,000497 stadia, he then makes the distance from the southern extremity of India to the mountains 30,000 stadia. Since Byzantium and Marseilles are under the same parallel of latitude, as Hipparchus tells us they are, on the authority of Pytheas, and since Byzantium and the Dnieper498 have also the same meridian, as Hipparchus equally assures us, if we take his assertion that there is a distance of 3700499 stadia between Byzantium and the Dnieper, there will of course be a like difference between the latitude of Marseilles and the [Pg 111] Dnieper. This would make the latitude of the Dnieper identical with that of Keltica next the Ocean; for on proceeding 3700 stadia [north of Marseilles], we reach the ocean.500

13. Again, we know that the Cinnamon Country is the most southerly point of the habitable earth. According to Hipparchus’s own statement, the latitude of this country, which marks the commencement of the temperate zone, and likewise of the habitable earth, is distant from the equator about 8800 stadia.501 And since he likewise says that from the equator to the parallel of the Dnieper there are 34,000 stadia, there will remain a distance of 25,200 stadia between the parallel of the Dnieper (which is the same as that which passes over the side of Keltica next the Ocean) to that which separates the torrid from the temperate zone. It is said that the farthest voyages now made north of Keltica are to Ierne,502 which lies beyond Britain, and, on account of its extreme cold, barely sustains life; beyond this it is thought to be uninhabitable. Now the distance between Keltica and Ierne is estimated at not more than 5000 stadia; so that on this view they must have estimated the whole breadth of the habitable earth at 30,000 stadia, or just above.

14. Let us then transport ourselves to the land opposite the Cinnamon Country, and lying to the east under the same parallel of latitude; we shall there find the country named Taprobane.503 This Taprobane is universally believed to be a large island situated in the high seas, and lying to the south opposite India. Its length in the direction of Ethiopia is above 5000 stadia, as they say. There are brought from thence to the Indian markets, ivory, tortoise-shells, and other wares in large quantities. Now if this island is broad in proportion to [Pg 112] its length, we cannot suppose that the whole distance,504 inclusive of the space which separates it from India, is less than 3000 stadia, which is equal to the distance of the [southern] extremity of the habitable earth from Meroe, since the [southern] extremities of India and Meroe are under the same parallel. It is likely there are more than 3000 stadia,505 but taking this number, if we add thereto the 30,000 stadia, which Deimachus states there are between [the southern extremity of India] and the country of the Bactrians and Sogdians, we shall find both of these nations lie beyond the temperate zone and habitable earth.506 Who will venture to affirm such to be the case, hearing, as they must, the statement made both by ancients and moderns of the genial climate and fertility of northern India, Hyrcania, Aria, Margiana,507 and Bactriana also? These countries are all equally close to the northern side of the Taurus, Bactriana being contiguous to that part of the chain508 which forms the boundary of India. A country blessed with such advantages must be very far from uninhabitable. It is said that in Hyrcania each vine produces a metrete509 of wine, and each fig tree 60 medimni510 of fruit. That the grains of wheat which fall from the husk on to the earth spring up the year following; that bee-hives are in the trees, and the leaves flow with honey. The same may be met with in the part of Media called Matiana,511 and also in Sacasena [Pg 113] and Araxena, countries of Armenia. In these three it is not so much to be wondered at, since they lie more to the south than Hyrcania, and surpass the rest of the country in the beauty of their climate; but in Hyrcania it is more remarkable. It is said that in Margiana you may frequently meet with a vine whose stock would require two men with outstretched arms to clasp it, and clusters of grapes two cubits long. Aria is described as similarly fertile, the wine being still richer, and keeping perfectly for three generations in unpitched casks. Bactriana, which adjoins Aria, abounds in the same productions, if we except olives.

15. That there are cold regions in the high and mountainous parts of these countries is not to be wondered at; since in the [more] southern climates the mountains, and even the tablelands, are cold. The districts next the Euxine, in Cappadocia, are much farther north than those adjoining the Taurus. Bagadania, a vast plain, situated between the mountains of Argæus512 and Taurus, hardly produces any fruit trees, although south of the Euxine Sea by 3000 stadia; while the territory round Sinope,513 Amisus,514 and Phanarœa abounds in olives.

The Oxus,515 which divides Bactriana from Sogdiana, is said to be of such easy navigation that the wares of India are brought up it into the sea of Hyrcania,516 and thence successively by various other rivers to the districts near the Euxine.517

16. Can one find any fertility to compare with this near to the Dnieper, or that part of Keltica next the ocean,518 where the vine either does not grow at all, or attains no maturity.519 However, in the more southerly portions of these districts,520 [Pg 114] close to the sea, and those next the Bosphorus,521 the vine brings its fruit to maturity, although the grapes are exceedingly small, and the vines are covered up all the winter. And in the parts near the mouth of the Palus Mæotis, the frost is so strong that a general of Mithridates defeated the barbarians here in a cavalry engagement during the winter, and on the very same spot in a naval fight in summer, when the ice was thawed. Eratosthenes furnishes us with the following inscription, which he found in the temple of Æsculapius at Panticapæeon,522 on a brazen vase which had been broken by the frost:—

“If any one doubts the intensity of our winter’s cold, let him believe when he sees this vase. The priest Stratius placed it here, not because he considered it a worthy offering to the god, but as a proof of the severity of our winter.”

Since therefore the provinces we have just enumerated [are so superior in climate, that they] cannot be compared with the countries surrounding the Bosphorus, nor even the regions of Amisus and Sinope, (for every one will admit that they are much superior to these latter,) it would be idle to compare them with the districts near the Borysthenes and the north of Keltica; for we have shown that their temperature is not so low as Amisus, Sinope, Byzantium, and Marseilles, which are universally acknowledged to be 3700 stadia south of the Dnieper and Keltica.

17. If the followers of Deimachus add to the 30,000 stadia the distance to Taprobane and the boundaries of the torrid zone, which cannot be reckoned less than 4000 stadia,523 they will then remove Bactria and Aria from their actual localities and place them 34,000 stadia from the torrid zone, a distance equal to that which Hipparchus states to be between the equator and [the mouth of] the Dnieper, and the two countries will therefore be removed 8800 stadia north of [the mouth of] the Dnieper and Keltica; for there are reckoned to be 8800 stadia from the equator to the parallel of latitude which separates the temperate from the torrid [Pg 115] zone and which crosses the Cinnamon Country.524 We have proved that the regions not more than 5000 stadia north of Keltica, as far as Ierne,525 are scarcely habitable, but their reasoning leads to the conclusion that there is another circle fitted for the habitation of man, although 3800 stadia north of Ierne.526 And that Bactra is still farther north than the mouth of the Caspian or Hyrcanian Sea, which is distant about 6000 stadia from the recess of the Caspian and the mountains of Armenia and Media, and which appears to be the most northerly point of the whole coast as far as India, with a sea navigable to India all the way, as Patrocles, who had the government of these regions, affirms. Now Bactriana stretches 1000 stadia farther north. Beyond this the Scythians occupy a much larger territory, bounded by the Northern Ocean: here they dwell, though to be sure theirs is a nomade life. But we ask how they could exist here at all, supposing even Bactra to be beyond the limits of the habitable globe. The distance from the Caucasus to the Northern Sea through Bactra would be [Pg 116] rather more than 4000 stadia.527 This being added to the number528 of stadia north of Ierne529 above-mentioned, will give us the whole amount of uninhabitable land from Ierne northward 7800 stadia, and even omitting the 4000 stadia altogether, those parts of Bactriana next the Caucasus will still be 3800 stadia farther north than Ierne, and 8800 farther north than Keltica,530 and [the mouth] of the Dnieper.

18. Hipparchus narrates that at the Dnieper and [the north of] Keltica, during the whole of the summer nights there is one continued twilight from sunset to sunrise, but at the winter solstice the sun never rises more than nine cubits above the horizon.531 He adds that this phenomenon is yet more remarkable in regions 6300532 stadia north of Marseilles, (these regions he supposes to be peopled by Kelts, but I believe are inhabited by Britons, and 2500 stadia north of Keltica,) where the sun at the winter solstice533 rises only six cubits above the horizon. That at 9100534 stadia north of Marseilles it only rises four cubits, and not so much as three in the countries beyond, and which I consider much farther north than Ierne.535 However, Hipparchus, on the authority of Pytheas, places them south of Britain, and says that the longest day there consists only of 19 hours;536 while in countries where the sun rises but four cubits above the horizon, and which are situated 9100537 [Pg 117] stadia north of Marseilles, the day has 18 hours. Consequently [according to his hypothesis] the most southerly parts of Britain must be north of these regions. They must therefore be under the same parallel, or almost the same, as the parts of Bactriana next to the Caucasus, which I have shown are, according to the followers of Deimachus, 3800 stadia farther north than Ierne.538 Now if we add this to the number between Marseilles and Ierne, we shall get 12,500 stadia. But who ever made known to us that, in those parts, I mean, in the vicinity of Bactra, this was the duration of the longest day, or the height which the sun attains in the meridian at the winter solstice? All these things are patent to the eyes of every man, and require no mathematical investigation; therefore they certainly would have been mentioned by numerous writers both amongst the ancients who have left us histories of Persia, and by the later writers too, who have carried them down to our own time. How, too, would their fertility, which I have described above, harmonize with such a latitude? The facts here advanced are sufficient to give an idea of the learned manner in which Hipparchus attempts to controvert the reasoning of Eratosthenes by mere petitiones principii.

19. Again, Eratosthenes wished to show the ignorance of Deimachus, and his want of information concerning such matters, as proved by his assertion that India lies between the autumnal equinox539 and winter tropic.540 Also in his blaming Megasthenes, where he says that in the southern parts of India the Greater and Lesser Bear are seen to set, and the shadows [Pg 118] to fall both ways; assuring us that such is not the case in India.541 These assertions, says Eratosthenes, arise from the ignorance of Deimachus. For it is nothing else than ignorance to suppose that the autumnal equinox is not equally distant from the tropics with the vernal; since in both equinoxes the sun rises at the same point, and performs a similar revolution. Further, [he continues,] the distance from the terrestrial tropic to the equator, between which, according to Deimachus himself, India is situated, has been proved by measurement to be much less than 20,000 stadia, consequently his own statements prove that my assertion is correct, and not his. For supposing India to be twenty or thirty thousand stadia [in breadth] it could not be contained in the given space, but if my estimate be taken it is simple enough. It is another evidence of his want of information, to say that the two Bears are not seen to set, or the shadows to fall both ways, in any part of India, since 5000 stadia south of Alexandria542 both of these phenomena are observable. Thus reasons Eratosthenes; whom Hipparchus again criticises in the same mistaken way. First he substitutes [in the text of Deimachus] the summer in place of the winter tropic; then he says that the evidence of a man ignorant of astronomy ought not to be received in a mathematical question; as if Eratosthenes in the main had actually been guided by the authority of Deimachus. Could he not see that Eratosthenes had followed [Pg 119] the general custom in regard to idle reasoners, one means of refuting whom is to show that their arguments, whatever they may be, go only to confirm our views.

20. It is by assuming as a fact that the southern extremity of India is under the same parallel as Meroe, a thing affirmed and believed by most writers, that we shall be best able to show the absurdities of the system of Hipparchus. In the first book of his Commentaries he does not object to this hypothesis, but in the second book he no longer admits it; we must examine his reasons for this. He says, “when two countries are situated under the same parallel, but separated by a great distance, you cannot be certain that they are exactly under the same parallel, unless the climata543 of both the places are found to be similar. Now Philo, in his account of a voyage by sea to Ethiopia, has given us the clima of Meroe. He says that at that place the sun is vertical forty-five days before the summer solstice,544 he also informs us of the proportion of shadow thrown by the gnomon both at the equinoxes and solstices. Eratosthenes agrees almost exactly with Philo. But not a single writer, not even Eratosthenes, has informed us of the clima of India; but if it is the case, as many are inclined to believe on the authority of Nearchus,545 that the two Bears are seen to set in that country, then certainly Meroe and the southern extremity of India cannot be under the same parallel.”546 [Such is the reasoning of Hipparchus, but we reply,] If Eratosthenes confirms the statement of those authors [Pg 120] who tell us that in India the two Bears are observed to set, how can it be said that not a single person, not even Eratosthenes, has informed us of any thing concerning the clima of India? This is itself information on that point. If, however, he has not confirmed this statement, let him be exonerated from the error. Certain it is he never did confirm the statement. Only when Deimachus affirmed that there was no place in India from which the two Bears might be seen to set, or the shadows fall both ways, as Megasthenes had asserted, Eratosthenes thereupon taxed him with ignorance, regarding as absolutely false this two-fold assertion, one half of which, namely, that concerning the shadows not falling both ways, Hipparchus himself acknowledged to be false; for if the southern extremity of India were not under the same parallel as Meroe, still Hipparchus appears to have considered it south of Syene.

21. In the instances which follow, Hipparchus, treating of these subjects, either asserts things similar to those which we have already refuted, or takes for granted matters which are not so, or draws improper sequences. For instance, from the computation [of Eratosthenes] that the distance from Babylon to Thapsacus547 is 4800 stadia, and thence northward to the mountains of Armenia548 2100 stadia more, it does not follow that, starting from the meridian of that city, the distance to the northern mountains is above 6000 stadia. Besides, Eratosthenes never says that the distance from Thapsacus to these mountains is 2100 stadia, but that a part thereof has never yet been measured; so that this argument [of Hipparchus], founded on a false hypothesis, amounts to nothing. Nor did Eratosthenes ever assert that Thapsacus lies more than 4500 stadia north of Babylon.

22. Again, Hipparchus, ever anxious to defend the [accuracy of the] ancient charts, instead of fairly stating the words of Eratosthenes concerning his third section of the habitable earth, wilfully makes him the author of an assertion easy of disproof. For Eratosthenes, following the opinion we before mentioned, that a line drawn from the Pillars of Hercules across the Mediterranean, and the length of the Taurus, would [Pg 121] run due west and east,549 divides, by means of this line, the habitable earth into two portions, which he calls the northern and southern divisions; each of these he again essays to subdivide into as many smaller partitions as practicable, which he denominates sections.550 He makes India the first section of the southern part, and Ariana551 the second; these two countries possessing a good outline, he has been able not only to give us an accurate statement of their length and breadth, but an almost geometrically exact description of their figure. He tells us that the form of India is rhomboidal, being washed on two of its sides by the southern and eastern oceans [respectively], which do not deeply indent its shores. The two remaining sides are contained by its mountains and the river [Indus], so that it presents a kind of rectilinear figure.552 As to Ariana, he considered three of its sides well fitted to form a parallelogram; but of the western side he could give no regular definition, as it was inhabited by various nations; nevertheless he attempts an idea of it by a line drawn from the Caspian Gates553 to the limits of Carmania, which border on the Persian Gulf. This side he calls western, and that next the Indus eastern, but he does not tell us they are parallel to each other; neither does he say this of the other sides, one bounded by the mountains, and the other by the sea; he simply calls them north and south.

23. Having in this manner but imperfectly traced the outlines of his second section, the third section, for various reasons, is still less exact. The first cause has been already explained, viz. that the line from the Caspian Gates to Carmania is not clearly defined, as the side of the section is common both to the third and second sections. Secondly, on account of the Persian Gulf interrupting the continuity of [Pg 122] the southern side, as he himself tells us, he has been obliged to take the measured road running through Susa and Persepolis to the boundaries of Carmania and Persia, and suppose it straight.554 This road, which he calls the southern side, is a little more than 9000 stadia. He does not, however, tell us, that it runs parallel to the northern side. It is also clear that the Euphrates, which he makes the western boundary, is any thing but a straight line. On leaving the mountains it flows south, but soon shifts its course to the east; it then again pursues a southerly direction till it reaches the sea. In fact, Eratosthenes himself acknowledges the indirect course of this river, when he compares the shape of Mesopotamia, which is formed by the junction of the Tigris and Euphrates, to the cushion on a rower’s bench. The western side bounded by the Euphrates is not entirely measured; for he tells us that he does not know the extent of the portion between Armenia and the northern mountains,555 as it has not been measured. By reason of these hinderances he states that he has been only able to give a very superficial view of the third section, and that his estimate of the distances is borrowed from various Itineraries, some of them, according to his own description, anonymous. Hipparchus therefore must be considered guilty of unfairness, for criticising with geometrical precision a work of this general nature. We ought rather to be grateful to a person who gives us any description at all of the character of such [unknown] places. But when he urges his geometrical objections not against any real statement of Eratosthenes, but merely against imaginary hypotheses of his own creation, he shows too plainly the contradictory bent of his mind.

24. It is in this general kind of description of the third section that Eratosthenes supposes 10,000 stadia from the Caspian Gates to the Euphrates. This he again divides according to former admeasurements which he found preserved. Starting from the point where the Euphrates passes near to Thapsacus, he computes from thence to the place where Alexander crossed the Tigris 2400 stadia. The route [Pg 123] thence through Gaugamela,556 the Lycus,557 Arbela,558 and Ecbatana,559 whither Darius fled from Gaugamela to the Caspian Gates, makes up the 10,000 stadia, which is only 300 stadia too much. Such is the measure of the northern side given by Eratosthenes, which he could not have supposed to be parallel to the mountains, nor yet to the line drawn from the Pillars of Hercules through Athens and Rhodes. For Thapsacus is far removed from the mountains, and the route from Thapsacus to the Caspian Gates only falls in with the mountains at that point.560 Such is the boundary on the northern side.

25. Thus, says Eratosthenes, we have given you a description of the northern side; as for the southern, we cannot take its measure along the sea, on account of the Persian Gulf, which intercepts [its continuity], but from Babylon through Susa and Persepolis to the confines of Persia and Carmania there are 9200 stadia. This he calls the southern side, but he does not say it is parallel to the northern. The difference of length between the northern and southern sides is caused, he tells us, by the Euphrates, which after running south some distance shifts its course almost due east.

26. Of the two remaining sides, he describes the western first, but whether we are to regard it as one single straight line, or two, seems to be undecided. He says,—From Thapsacus to Babylon, following the course of the Euphrates, there are 4800 stadia; from thence to the mouth of the Euphrates561 and the city of Teredon, 3000562 more; from Thapsacus northward to the Gates of Armenia, having been measured, is stated to be 1100 stadia, but the distance through Gordyæa and Armenia, not having yet been measured, is not given. The eastern side, which stretches lengthwise through Persia from the Red Sea towards Media and the north, does not appear to be less than 8000 stadia, and measured from certain headlands above 9000, the rest of the distance through Parætacena and Media to the Caspian Gates being 3000 stadia. The rivers Tigris and Euphrates flowing from Armenia towards the south, after having passed the [Pg 124] Gordyæan mountains, and having formed a great circle which embraces the vast country of Mesopotamia, turn towards the rising of the sun in winter and the south, particularly the Euphrates, which, continually approaching nearer and nearer to the Tigris, passes by the rampart of Semiramis,563 and at about 200 stadia from the village of Opis,564 thence it flows through Babylon, and so discharges itself into the Persian Gulf. Thus the figure of Mesopotamia and Babylon resembles the cushion of a rower’s bench.—Such are the words of Eratosthenes.

27. In the Third Section it is true he does make some mistakes, which we shall take into consideration; but they are nothing like the amount which Hipparchus attributes to him. However, we will examine his objections. [In the first place,] he would have the ancient charts left just as they are, and by no means India brought more to the south, as Eratosthenes thinks proper. Indeed, he asserts that the very arguments adduced by that writer only confirm him the more in his opinion. He says, “According to Eratosthenes, the northern side of the third section is bounded by a line of 10,000 stadia drawn from the Caspian Gates to the Euphrates, the southern side from Babylon to the confines of Carmania is a little more than 9000 stadia. On the western side, following the course of the Euphrates, from Thapsacus to Babylon there are 4800 stadia, and thence to the outlets of the river 3000 stadia more. Northward from Thapsacus [to the Gates of Armenia] is reckoned 1100 stadia; the rest has not been measured. Now since Eratosthenes says that the northern side of this Third Section is about 10,000 stadia, and that the right line parallel thereto drawn from Babylon to the eastern side is computed at just above 9000 stadia, it follows that Babylon is not much more than 1000 stadia east of the passage of [the Euphrates] near Thapsacus.”

28. We answer, that if the Caspian Gates and the boundary line of Carmania and Persia were exactly under the same meridian, and if right lines drawn in the direction of Thapsacus and Babylon would intersect such meridian at right angles, [Pg 125] the inference would be just.565 For then the line [from the common frontier of Carmania and Persia] to Babylon, if produced to the meridian of Thapsacus, would appear to the eye equal, or nearly equal, to that from the Caspian Gates to Thapsacus. Consequently, Babylon would only be east of Thapsacus in the same proportion as the line drawn from the Caspian Gates to Thapsacus exceeds the line drawn from the frontier of Carmania to Babylon.566 Eratosthenes, however, does not tell us that the line which bounds the western coast of Ariana follows the direction of the meridian; nor yet that a line drawn from the Caspian Gates to Thapsacus would form right angles with the meridian of the Caspian Gates. But rather, that the line which would form right angles with the meridian, would be one which should follow the course of the Taurus, and with which the line drawn from the Caspian Gates to Thapsacus would form an acute angle. Nor, again, does he ever say that a line drawn from Carmania to Babylon would be parallel to that drawn [from the Caspian Gates] to Thapsacus; and even if it were parallel, this would prove nothing for the argument of Hipparchus, since it does not form right angles with the meridian of the Caspian Gates.

29. But taking this for granted, and proving, as he imagines, that, according to Eratosthenes, Babylon is east of Thapsacus rather more than 1000 stadia, he draws from this false hypothesis a new argument, which he uses to the following purpose; and says, If we suppose a right line drawn from Thapsacus towards the south, and another from Babylon perpendicular thereto, a right-angled triangle would be the result; whose sides should be, 1. A line drawn from Thapsacus to Babylon; 2. A perpendicular drawn from Babylon to the meridian of Thapsacus; 3. The meridian line of Thapsacus. The hypotenuse of this triangle would be a right line drawn from Thapsacus to Babylon, which he estimates at 4800 stadia. The perpendicular drawn from Babylon to the meridian of Thapsacus is scarcely more than 1000 stadia, the same amount by which the line drawn [from the Caspian Gates] to [Pg 126] Thapsacus exceeds that [from the common frontier of Carmania and Persia] to Babylon. The two sides [of the triangle] being given, Hipparchus proceeds to find the third, which is much greater than the perpendicular567 aforesaid. To this he adds the line drawn from Thapsacus northwards to the mountains of Armenia, one part of which, according to Eratosthenes, was measured, and found to be 1100 stadia; the other, or part unmeasured by Eratosthenes, Hipparchus estimates to be 1000 stadia at the least: so that the two together amount to 2100 stadia. Adding this to the [length of the] side upon which falls the perpendicular drawn from Babylon, Hipparchus estimated a distance of many thousand stadia from the mountains of Armenia and the parallel of Athens to this perpendicular, which falls on the parallel of Babylon.568 From the parallel of Athens569 to that of Babylon he shows that there cannot be a greater distance than 2400 stadia, even admitting the estimate supplied by Eratosthenes himself of the number of stadia which the entire meridian contains;570 and that if this be so, the mountains of Armenia and the Taurus cannot be under the same parallel of latitude as Athens, (which is the opinion of Eratosthenes,) but many thousand stadia to the north, as the data supplied by that writer himself prove.

But here, for the formation of his right-angled triangle, Hipparchus not only makes use of propositions already overturned, but assumes what was never granted, namely, that the hypotenuse subtending his right angle, which is the straight line from Thapsacus to Babylon, is 4800 stadia in length. What Eratosthenes says is, that this route follows the course of the Euphrates, and adds, that Mesopotamia and Babylon are encompassed as it were by a great circle formed by the Euphrates and Tigris, but principally by the former of these rivers. So that a straight line from Thapsacus to Babylon would neither follow the course of the Euphrates, nor yet be near so many stadia in length. Thus the argument [of Hipparchus] is overturned. We have stated before, that supposing two lines drawn from [Pg 127] the Caspian Gates, one to Thapsacus, and the other to the mountains of Armenia opposite Thapsacus, and distant therefrom, according to Hipparchus’s own estimate, 2100 stadia at the very least, neither of them would be parallel to each other, nor yet to that line which, passing through Babylon, is styled by Eratosthenes the southern side [of the third section]. As he could not inform us of the exact length of the route by the mountains, Eratosthenes tells us the distance between Thapsacus and the Caspian Gates; in fact, to speak in a general way, he puts this distance in place of the other; besides, as he merely wanted to give the length of the territory between Ariana and the Euphrates, he was not particular to have the exact measure of either route. To pretend that he considered the lines to be parallel to each other, is evidently to accuse the man of more than childish ignorance, and we dismiss the insinuation as nonsense forthwith.

30. There, however, are some instances in which one may justly accuse Eratosthenes. There is a difference in dissecting limb by limb, or merely cutting off portions [indiscriminately], (for in the former you may only separate parts having a natural outline, and distinguished by a regular form; this the poet alludes to in the expression,

“Cutting them limb from limb;”571

whereas in regard to the latter this is not the case,) and we may adopt with propriety either one or other of these plans according to the time and necessity. So in Geography, if you enter into every detail, you may sometimes be compelled to divide your territories into portions, so to speak, but it is a more preferable way to separate them into limbs, than into such chance pieces; for thus only you can define accurately particular points and boundaries, a thing so necessary to the geographer. When it can be done, the best way to define a country is by the rivers, mountains, or sea; also, where possible, by the nation or nations [who inhabit it], and by its size and configuration. However, in default of a geometrical definition, a simple and general description may be said always to answer the purpose. In regard to size, it is sufficient to state the greatest length and breadth; for example, that the habitable [Pg 128] earth is 70,000 stadia long, and that its breadth is scarcely half its length.572 And as to form, to compare a country to any geometrical or other well-known figure. For example, Sicily to a triangle, Spain to an ox-hide, or the Peloponnesus to a plane-leaf.573 The larger the territory to be divided, the more general also ought its divisions to be.

31. [In the system of Eratosthenes], the habitable earth has been admirably divided into two parts by the Taurus and the Mediterranean Sea, which reaches to the Pillars. On the southern side, the limits of India have been described by a variety of methods; by its mountains,574 its river,575 its seas,576 and its name,577 which seems to indicate that it is inhabited only by one people.578 It is with justice too that he attributes to it the form of a quadrilateral or rhomboid. Ariana is not so accurately described, on account of its western side being interwoven with the adjacent land. Still it is pretty well distinguished by its three other sides, which are formed by three nearly straight lines, and also by its name, which shows it to be only one nation.579 As to the Third Section of Eratosthenes, it cannot be considered to be defined or circumscribed at all; for that side of it which is common to Ariana is but ill defined, as before remarked. The southern side, too, is most negligently taken: it is, in fact, no boundary to the section at all, for it passes right through its centre, leaving entirely outside of it many of the southern portions. Nor [Pg 129] yet does it represent the greatest length of the section, for the northern side is the longest.580 Nor, lastly, can the Euphrates be its western boundary, not even if it flowed in a right line, since its two extremes581 do not lie under the same meridian. How then is it the western rather than the southern boundary? Apart from this, the distance to the Seas of Cilicia and Syria is so inconsiderable, that there can be no reason why he should not have enlarged the third section, so as to include the kingdoms of Semiramis and Ninus, who are both of them known as Syrian monarchs; the first built Babylon, which he made his royal residence; the second Ninus,582 the capital of Syria;583 and the same dialect still exists on both sides of the Euphrates. The idea of thus dismembering so renowned a nation, and allotting its portions to strange nations with which it had no connexion, is as peculiarly unfortunate. Eratosthenes cannot plead that he was compelled to do this on account of its size, for had it extended as far as the sea and the frontiers of Arabia Felix and Egypt, even then it would not have been as large as India, or even Ariana. It would have therefore been much better to have enlarged the third section, making it comprehend the whole space as far as the Sea of Syria; but if this were done, the southern side would not be as he represents it, nor yet in a straight line, but starting from Carmania would follow the right side of the sea-shore from the Persian Gulf to the mouth of the Euphrates; it would then approach the limits of Mesene584 and Babylon, where the Isthmus commences which separates Arabia Felix from the rest of the continent. Traversing the Isthmus, it would continue its course to the recess of the Arabian Gulf and Pelusium,585 thence to the mouth of the Nile at Canopus.586 Such would be the southern [Pg 130] side. The west would be traced by the sea-shore from the [river’s] mouth at Canopus to Cilicia.587

32. The fourth section would consist of Arabia Felix, the Arabian Gulf, and the whole of Egypt and Ethiopia. Its length bounded by two meridians, one drawn through its most western point, the other through its most eastern; and its breadth by two parallels through its most northern and southern points. For this is the best way to describe the extent of irregular figures, whose length and breadth cannot be determined by their sides.

In general it is to be observed, that length and breadth are to be understood in different ways, according as you speak of the whole or a part. Of a whole, the greater distance is called its length, and the lesser its breadth; of a part, that is to be considered the length which is parallel to the length of the whole, without any regard whether it, or that which is left for the breadth, be the greater distance. The length of the whole habitable earth is measured from east to west by a line drawn parallel to the equator, and its breadth from north to south in the direction of the meridian; consequently, the length of any of the parts ought to be portions of a line drawn parallel to the length of the whole, and their breadth to the breadth of the whole. For, in the first place, by this means the size of the whole habitable earth will be best described; and secondly, the disposition and configuration of its parts, and the manner in which one may be said to be greater or less than another, will be made manifest by thus comparing them.

33. Eratosthenes, however, measures the length of the habitable earth by a line which he considers straight, drawn from the Pillars of Hercules, in the direction of the Caspian Gates and the Caucasus. The length of the third section, by a line drawn from the Caspian Gates to Thapsacus, and of the fourth, by one running from Thapsacus through Heroopolis to the country surrounded by the Nile: this must necessarily be deflected to Canopus and Alexandria, for there is the last mouth of the Nile, which goes by the name of the Canopic588 or Heracleotic mouth. Whether [Pg 131] therefore these two lengths be considered to form one straight line, or to make an angle with Thapsacus, certain it is that neither of them is parallel to the length of the habitable earth; this is evident from what Eratosthenes has himself said concerning them. According to him the length of the habitable earth is described by a right line running through the Taurus to the Pillars of Hercules, in the direction of the Caucasus, Rhodes, and Athens. From Rhodes to Alexandria, following the meridian of the two cities, he says there cannot be much less than 4000 stadia,589 consequently there must be the same difference between the latitudes of Rhodes and Alexandria. Now the latitude of Heroopolis is about the same as Alexandria, or rather more south. So that a line, whether straight or broken, which intersects the parallel of Heroopolis, Rhodes, or the Gates of the Caspian, cannot be parallel to either of these. These lengths therefore are not properly indicated, nor are the northern sections any better.

34. We will now return at once to Hipparchus, and see what comes next. Continuing to palm assumptions of his own [upon Eratosthenes], he goes on to refute, with geometrical accuracy, statements which that author had made in a mere general way. “Eratosthenes,” he says, “estimates that there are 6700 stadia between Babylon and the Caspian Gates, and from Babylon to the frontiers of Carmania and Persia above 9000 stadia; this he supposes to lie in a direct line towards the equinoctial rising,590 and perpendicular to the common side of his second and third sections. Thus, according to his plan, we should have a right-angled triangle, with the right angle next to the frontiers of Carmania, and its hypotenuse less than one of the sides about the right angle! Consequently Persia should be included in the second section.”591

[Pg 132] To this we reply, that the line drawn from Babylon to Carmania was never intended as a parallel, nor yet that which divides the two sections as a meridian, and that therefore nothing has been laid to his charge, at all events with any just foundation. In fact, Eratosthenes having stated the number of stadia from the Caspian Gates to Babylon as above given,592 [from the Caspian Gates] to Susa 4900 stadia, and from Babylon [to Susa] 3400 stadia, Hipparchus runs away from his former hypothesis, and says that [by drawing lines from] the Caspian Gates, Susa, and Babylon, an obtuse-angled triangle would be the result, whose sides should be of the length laid down, and of which Susa would form the obtuse angle. He then argues, that “according to these premises, the meridian drawn from the Gates of the Caspian will intersect the parallel of Babylon and Susa 4400 stadia more to the west, than would a straight line drawn from the Caspian to the confines of Carmania and Persia; and that this last line, forming with the meridian of the Caspian Gates half a right angle, would lie exactly in a direction midway between the south and the equinoctial rising. Now as the course of the Indus is parallel to this line, it cannot flow south on its descent from the mountains, as Eratosthenes asserts, but in a direction lying between the south and the equinoctial rising, as laid down in the ancient charts.” But who is there who will admit this to be an obtuse-angled triangle, without also admitting that it contains a right angle? Who will agree that the line from Babylon to Susa, which forms one side of this obtuse-angled triangle, lies parallel, without admitting the same of the whole line as far as Carmania? or that the line drawn from the Caspian Gates to the frontiers of Carmania is parallel to the Indus? Nevertheless, without this the reasoning [of Hipparchus] is worth nothing.

“Eratosthenes himself also states,” [continues Hipparchus,593] [Pg 133] “that the form of India is rhomboidal; and since the whole eastern border of that country has a decided tendency towards the east, but more particularly the extremest cape,594 which lies more to the south than any other part of the coast, the side next the Indus must be the same.”

35. These arguments may be very geometrical, but they are not convincing. After having himself invented these various difficulties, he dismisses them, saying, “Had [Eratosthenes] been chargeable for small distances only, he might have been excused; but since his mistakes involve thousands of stadia, we cannot pardon him, more especially since he has laid it down that at a mere distance of 400 stadia,595 such as that between the parallels of Athens and Rhodes, there is a sensible variation [of latitude].” But these sensible variations are not all of the same kind, the distance [involved therein] being in some instances greater, in others less; greater, when for our estimate of the climata we trust merely to the eye, or are guided by the vegetable productions and the temperature of the air; less, when we employ gnomons and dioptric instruments. Nothing is more likely than that if you measure the parallel of Athens, or that of Rhodes and Caria, by means of a gnomon, the difference resulting from so many stadia596 will be sensible. But when a geographer, in order to trace a line from west to east, 3000 stadia broad, makes use of a chain of mountains 40,000 stadia long, and also of a sea which extends still farther 30,000 stadia, and farther wishing to point out the situation of the different parts of the habitable earth relative to this line, calls some southern, others northern, and finally lays out what he calls the sections, each section consisting of divers countries, then we ought carefully to examine in what acceptation he uses his terms; in what sense he says that such a side [of any section] is the north side, and what other is the south, or east, or west side. If he does not take pains to avoid great errors, he deserves to be blamed, but should he be guilty merely of trifling inaccuracies, he should be forgiven. But here nothing shows thoroughly that Eratosthenes [Pg 134] has committed either serious or slight errors, for on one hand what he may have said concerning such great distances, can never be verified by a geometrical test, and on the other, his accuser, while endeavouring to reason like a geometrician, does not found his arguments on any real data, but on gratuitous suppositions.

36. The fourth section Hipparchus certainly manages better, though he still maintains the same censorious tone, and obstinacy in sticking to his first hypotheses, or others similar. He properly objects to Eratosthenes giving as the length of this section a line drawn from Thapsacus to Egypt, as being similar to the case of a man who should tell us that the diagonal of a parallelogram was its length. For Thapsacus and the coasts of Egypt are by no means under the same parallel of latitude, but under parallels considerably distant from each other,597 and a line drawn from Thapsacus to Egypt would lie in a kind of diagonal or oblique direction between them. But he is wrong when he expresses his surprise that Eratosthenes should dare to state the distance between Pelusium and Thapsacus at 6000 stadia, when he says there are above 8000. In proof of this he advances that the parallel of Pelusium is south of that of Babylon by more than 2500 stadia, and that according to Eratosthenes (as he supposes) the latitude of Thapsacus is above 4800 stadia north of that of Babylon; from which Hipparchus tells us it results that [between Thapsacus and Pelusium] there are more than 8000 stadia. But I would inquire how he can prove that Eratosthenes supposed so great a distance between the parallels of Babylon and Thapsacus? He says, indeed, that such is the distance from Thapsacus to Babylon, but not that there is this distance between their parallels, nor yet that Thapsacus and Babylon are under the same meridian. So much the contrary, that Hipparchus has himself pointed out, that, according to Eratosthenes, Babylon ought to be east of Thapsacus more than 2000 stadia. We have before cited the statement of Eratosthenes, that Mesopotamia and Babylon are encircled by the Tigris and Euphrates, and that the greater portion of the Circle is formed by this latter river, which flowing north and south takes a turn to the east, and then, returning to a [Pg 135] southerly direction, discharges itself [into the sea]. So long as it flows from north to south, it may be said to follow a southerly direction; but the turning towards the east and Babylon is a decided deviation from the southerly direction, and it never recovers a straight course, but forms the circuit we have mentioned above. When he tells us that the journey from Babylon to Thapsacus is 4800 stadia, he adds, following the course of the Euphrates, as if on purpose lest any one should understand such to be the distance in a direct line, or between the two parallels. If this be not granted, it is altogether a vain attempt to show that if a right-angled triangle were constructed by lines drawn from Pelusium and Thapsacus to the point where the parallel of Thapsacus intercepts the meridian of Pelusium, that one of the lines which form the right angle, and is in the direction of the meridian, would be longer than that forming the hypotenuse drawn from Thapsacus to Pelusium.598 Worthless, too, is the argument in connexion with this, being the inference from a proposition not admitted; for Eratosthenes never asserts that from Babylon to the meridian of the Caspian Gates is a distance of 4800 stadia. We have shown that Hipparchus deduces this from data not admitted by Eratosthenes; but desirous to controvert every thing advanced by that writer, he assumes that from Babylon to the line drawn from the Caspian Gates to the mountains of Carmania, according to Eratosthenes’ description, there are above 9000 stadia, and from thence draws his conclusions.

37. Eratosthenes599 cannot, therefore, be found fault with on these grounds; what may be objected against him is as follows. When you wish to give a general outline of size and configuration, you should devise for yourself some rule which may be adhered to more or less. After having laid down that the breadth of the space occupied by the mountains which run in a direction due east, as well as by the sea which reaches to the Pillars of Hercules, is 3000 stadia, would you pretend to estimate different lines, which you may draw within the breadth of that space, as one and the same line? We [Pg 136] should be more willing to grant you the power of doing so with respect to the lines which run parallel to that space than with those which fall upon it; and among these latter, rather with respect to those which fall within it than to those which extend without it; and also rather for those which, in regard to the shortness of their extent, would not pass out of the said space than for those which would. And again, rather for lines of some considerable length than for any thing very short, for the inequality of lengths is less perceptible in great extents than the difference of configuration. For example, if you give 3000 stadia for the breadth at the Taurus, as well as for the sea which extends to the Pillars of Hercules, you will form a parallelogram entirely enclosing both the mountains of the Taurus and the sea; if you divide it in its length into several other parallelograms, and draw first the diagonal of the great parallelogram, and next that of each smaller parallelogram, surely the diagonal of the great parallelogram will be regarded as a line more nearly parallel and equal to the side forming the length of that figure than the diagonal of any of the smaller parallelograms: and the more your lesser parallelograms should be multiplied, the more will this become evident. Certainly, it is in great figures that the obliquity of the diagonal and its difference from the side forming the length are the less perceptible, so that you would have but little scruple in taking the diagonal as the length of the figure. But if you draw the diagonal more inclined, so that it falls beyond both sides, or at least beyond one of the sides, then will this no longer be the case; and this is the sense in which we have observed, that when you attempted to draw even in a very general way the extents of the figures, you ought to adopt some rule. But Eratosthenes takes a line from the Caspian Gates along the mountains, running as it were in the same parallel as far as the Pillars, and then a second line, starting directly from the mountains to touch Thapsacus; and again a third line from Thapsacus to the frontiers of Egypt, occupying so great a breadth. If then in proceeding you give the length of the two last lines [taken together] as the measure of the length of the district, you will appear to measure the length of one of your parallelograms by its diagonal. And if, farther, this diagonal should consist of a broken line, as that would be which stretches from the [Pg 137] Caspian Gates to the embouchure of the Nile, passing by Thapsacus, your error will appear much greater. This is the sum of what may be alleged against Eratosthenes.

38. In another respect also we have to complain of Hipparchus, because, as he had given a category of the statements of Eratosthenes, he ought to have corrected his mistakes, in the same way that we have done; but whenever he has any thing particular to remark, he tells us to follow the ancient charts, which, to say the least, need correction infinitely more than the map of Eratosthenes.

The argument which follows is equally objectionable, being founded on the consequences of a proposition which, as we have shown, is inadmissible, namely, that Babylon was not more than 1000 stadia east of Thapsacus; when it was quite clear, from Eratosthenes’ own words, that Babylon was above 2400 stadia east of that place; since from Thapsacus to the passage of the Euphrates where it was crossed by Alexander, the shortest route is 2400 stadia, and the Tigris and Euphrates, having encompassed Mesopotamia, flow towards the east, and afterwards take a southerly direction and approach nearer to each other and to Babylon at the same time: nothing appears absurd in this statement of Eratosthenes.

39. The next objection of Hipparchus is likewise false. He attempts to prove that Eratosthenes, in his statement that the route from Thapsacus to the Caspian Gates is 10,000 stadia, gives this as the distance taken in a straight line; such not being the case, as in that instance the distance would be much shorter. His mode of reasoning is after this fashion. He says, “According to Eratosthenes, the mouth of the Nile at Canopus,600 and the Cyaneæ,601 are under the same meridian, which is distant from that of Thapsacus 6300 stadia. Now from the Cyaneæ to Mount Caspius, which is situated close to the defile602 leading from Colchis to the Caspian [Pg 138] Sea, there are 6600 stadia,603 so that, with the exception of about 300 stadia, the distance from the meridian of the Cyaneæ to that of Thapsacus, or to that of Mount Caspius, is the same: and both Thapsacus and Mount Caspius are, so to speak, under the same meridian.604 It follows from this that the Caspian Gates are about equi-distant between Thapsacus and Mount Caspius, but that the distance between them and Thapsacus is much less than the 10,000 stadia mentioned by Eratosthenes. Consequently, as the distance in a right line is much less than 10,000 stadia, this route, which he considered to be in a straight course from the Caspian Gates to Thapsacus, must have been a circumbendibus.”

To this we reply, that Eratosthenes, as is usual in Geography, speaks of right lines, meridians, and parallels to the equator, with considerable latitude, whereas Hipparchus criticizes him with geometrical nicety, as if every line had been measured with rule and compass. Hipparchus at the same time himself frequently deciding as to right lines and parallels, not by actual measurement, but mere conjecture. Such is the first error of this writer. A second is, that he never lays down the distances as Eratosthenes has given them, nor yet reasons on the data furnished by that writer, but from mere assumptions of his own coinage. Thus, where Eratosthenes states that the distance from the mouth of the [Thracian Bosphorus] to the Phasis is 8000 stadia, from thence to Dioscurias 600 stadia,605 and from Dioscurias to Caspius five days’ journey, (which Hipparchus estimates at 1000 stadia,) the sum of these, as stated by Eratosthenes, would amount to 9600 stadia. This Hipparchus abridges in the following manner. From the Cyaneæ to the Phasis are 5600 stadia, and from the Phasis to the Caspius 1000 more.606 Therefore [Pg 139] it is no statement of Eratosthenes that the Caspius and Thapsacus are under the same meridian, but of Hipparchus himself. However, supposing Eratosthenes says so, does it follow that the distance from the Caspius to the Caspian Gates, and that from Thapsacus to the same point, are equal.607

40. In the second book of his Commentaries, Hipparchus, having again mooted the question concerning the mountains of the Taurus, of which we have spoken sufficiently, proceeds with the northern parts of the habitable earth. He then notices the statement of Eratosthenes concerning the countries situated west of the Euxine,608 namely, that the three [principal] headlands [of this continent], the first the Peloponnesian, the second the Italian, the third the Ligurian, run from north [to south], enclosing the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian Gulfs.609 After this general exposition, Hipparchus proceeds to criticise each point in detail, but rather on geometrical than geographical grounds; on these subjects, however, the number of Eratosthenes’ errors is so overwhelming, as also of Timosthenes the author of the Treatise on the Ports, (whom Eratosthenes prefers above every other writer, though he often decides even against him,) that it does not seem to be worth my time to review their faulty productions, nor even what Hipparchus has to say about them; since he neither enumerates all their blunders, nor yet sets them right, but only points out how [Pg 140] they falsify and contradict each other. Still any one might certainly object to the saying of Eratosthenes, that Europe has but three headlands, and considering as one that which terminates by the Peloponnesus, notwithstanding it is broken up into so many divisions. In fact, Sunium610 is as much a promontory as Laconia, and not very much less south than Malea,611 forming a considerable bay,612 and the Thracian Chersonesus613 and Sunium614 form the Gulf of Melas,615 and likewise those of Macedonia.616 Added to this, it is manifest that the majority of the distances are falsely stated, thus arguing an ignorance of geography scarcely credible, and so far from requiring geometrical demonstration that it stands out prominent on the very face of the statements. For example, the distance from Epidamnus617 to the Thermaic Gulf618 is above 2000 stadia; Eratosthenes gives it at 900. So too he states the distance from Alexandria to Carthage at 13,000619 stadia; it is not more than 9000, that is, if, as he himself tells us, Caria and Rhodes are under the same meridian as Alexandria,620 and the Strait of Messina under the same as Carthage,621 for every one is agreed that the voyage from Caria to the Strait of Sicily does not exceed 9000 stadia.

It is doubtless permissible in very great distances to consider as under one and the same meridian places which are not more east and west of each other than Carthage is west of the Strait;622 but an error of 3000 stadia is too much; and when he places Rome under the same meridian as Carthage, notwithstanding its being so far west of that city, it is but [Pg 141] the crowning proof of his extreme ignorance both of these places, and likewise of the other countries farther west as far as the Pillars of Hercules.

41. Since Hipparchus does not furnish a Geography of his own, but merely reviews what is said in that of Eratosthenes, he ought to have gone farther, and corrected the whole of that writer’s mistakes. As for ourselves, it is only in those particulars where Eratosthenes is correct (and we acknowledge that he frequently errs) that we have thought it our duty to quote his own words, in order to reinstate them in their position, and to defend him when he could be acquitted of the charges of Hipparchus; never failing to break a lance with the latter writer whenever his objections seemed to be the result of a mere propensity to find fault. But when Eratosthenes is grossly mistaken, and the animadversions of Hipparchus are just, we have thought it sufficient in our Geography to set him (Eratosthenes) right by merely stating facts as they are. As the mistakes were so continual and numerous, it was better not to mention them except in a sparse and general manner. This principle in the details we shall strive to carry out. In the present instance we shall only remark, that Timosthenes, Eratosthenes, and those who preceded them, were but ill acquainted with Iberia and Keltica,623 and a thousand times less with Germany, Britain, and the land of the Getæ and Bastarnæ.624 Their want of knowledge is also great in regard to Italy, the Adriatic, the Euxine, and the countries north of these. Possibly this last remark may be regarded as captious, since Eratosthenes states, that as to distant countries, he has merely given the admeasurements as he finds them supplied by others, without vouching for their accuracy, although he sometimes adds whether the route indicated is more or less in a right line. We should not therefore subject to a too rigorous examination distances as to which no one is agreed, after the manner Hipparchus does, both in regard to the places already mentioned, and also to those of which Eratosthenes has given the distance from Hyrcania to Bactria and the countries beyond, and those from [Pg 142] Colchis to the Sea of Hyrcania. These are points where we should not scrutinize him so narrowly as [when he describes] places situated in the heart of our continent,625 or others equally well known; and even these should be regarded from a geographical rather than a geometrical point of view. Hipparchus, at the end of the second book of his Commentaries on the Geography of Eratosthenes, having found fault with certain statements relative to Ethiopia, tells us at the commencement of the third, that his strictures, though to a certain point geographical, will be mathematical for the most part. As for myself, I cannot find any geography there. To me it seems entirely mathematical; but Eratosthenes himself set the example; for he frequently runs into scientific speculations, having little to do with the subject in hand, and which result in vague and inexact conclusions. Thus he is a mathematician in geography, and in mathematics a geographer; and so lies open to the attacks of both parties. In this third book, both he and Timosthenes get such severe justice, that there seems nothing left for us to do; Hipparchus is quite enough.

[Pg 143]


1. We will now proceed to examine the statements made by Posidonius in his Treatise on the Ocean. This Treatise contains much geographical information, sometimes given in a manner conformable to the subject, at others too mathematical. It will not, therefore, be amiss to look into some of his statements, both now and afterwards, as opportunity occurs, taking care to confine ourselves within bounds. He deals simply with geography, when he tells us that the earth is spheroidal and the universe too, and admits the necessary consequences of this hypothesis, one of which is, that the earth contains five zones.

2. Posidonius informs us that Parmenides was the first to make this division of the earth into five zones, but that he almost doubled the size of the torrid zone, which is situated between the tropics, by bringing it beyond these into the temperate zones.626 But according to Aristotle the torrid zone is contained between the tropics, the temperate zones occupying the whole space between the tropics and the arctic circles.627 Both of these divisions Posidonius justly condemns, for the torrid zone is properly the space rendered uninhabitable by the heat. Whereas more than half of the space between the tropics is inhabited, as we may judge by the Ethiopians who dwell above Egypt. The equator divides the whole of this space into two equal parts. Now from Syene, [Pg 144] which is the limit of the summer tropic, to Meroe, there are 5000 stadia, and thence to the parallel of the Cinnamon region, where the torrid zone commences, 3000 stadia. The whole of this distance has been measured, and it may be gone over either by sea or land; the remaining portion to the equator is, if we adopt the measure of the earth supplied by Eratosthenes, 8800 stadia. Therefore, as 16,800 is to 8800, so is the space comprised between the tropics to the breadth of the torrid zone.

If of the more recent measurements we prefer those which diminish the size of the earth, such as that adopted by Posidonius, which is about 180,000 stadia,628 the torrid zone will still only occupy half, or rather more than half, of the space comprised between the tropics; but never an equal space. [Respecting the system of Aristotle, Posidonius farther says,] “Since it is not every latitude which has Arctic Circles,629 and even those which do possess them have not the same, how can any one determine by them the bounds of the temperate zones, which are immutable?” Nothing however is proved [against Aristotle] from the fact that there are not Arctic Circles for every latitude, since they exist for all the inhabitants of the temperate zone, on whose account alone the zone receives its name of temperate. But the objection that the Arctic Circles do not remain the same for every latitude, but shift their places, is excellent.630

3. Posidonius, who himself divides the earth into zones, tells us that “five is the number best suited for the explanation of the celestial appearances, two of these are periscii,631 which reach from the poles to the point where the tropics serve for Arctic Circles; two more are heteroscii,632 which extend from [Pg 145] the former to the inhabitants of the tropics, and one between the tropics, which is called amphiscius,633 but for matters relative to the earth, it is convenient to suppose two other narrow zones placed under the tropics, and divided by them into two halves, over which [every year] for the space of a fortnight, the sun is vertical.”634 These zones are remarkable for being extremely arid and sandy, producing no vegetation with the exception of silphium,635 and a parched grain somewhat resembling wheat. This is caused by there being no mountains to attract the clouds and produce rain, nor any rivers flowing636 through the country. The consequence is that the various species637 are born with woolly hair, crumpled horns, protruding lips, and wide nostrils; their extremities being as it were gnarled. Within these zones also dwell the Ichthyophagi.638 He further remarks, that these peculiarities are quite sufficient to distinguish the zones in question: those which are farther south having a more salubrious atmosphere, and being more fruitful and better supplied with water.


1. Polybius supposes six zones: two situated between the poles and the arctic circles; two between the arctic circles and the tropics; and two between the tropics which are divided by the equator. However, it appears to me that the [Pg 146] division into five zones accords best both with the order of external nature and geography. With external nature, as respects the celestial phenomena, and the temperature of the atmosphere. With respect to the celestial phenomena, as the Periscii and Amphiscii are thereby divided in the best possible manner, and it also forms an excellent line of separation in regard to those who behold the stars from an opposite point of view.639 With respect to the temperature of the atmosphere, inasmuch as looked at in connexion with the sun, there are three main divisions, which influence in a remarkable degree both plants, animals, and every other animated thing, existing either in the air, or exposed to it, namely, excess of heat, want of heat, and a moderate supply of heat. In the division into [five] zones, each of these is correctly distinguished. The two frigid zones indicate the want of heat, being alike in the temperature of their atmosphere; the temperate zones possess a moderate heat, and the remaining, or torrid zone, is remarkable for its excess of heat.

The propriety of this division in regard to geography is equally apparent; the object of this science being to determine the limits of that one of the temperate zones which we inhabit. To the east and west, it is true, the boundaries are formed by the sea, but to the north and south they are indicated by the atmosphere; which in the middle is of a grateful temperature both to animals and plants, but on either side is rendered intemperate either through excess or defect of heat. To manifest this threefold difference, the division of the globe into five zones becomes necessary. In fact, the division of the globe, by means of the equator, into two hemispheres, the one northern, wherein we dwell, and the other southern, points to this threefold division, for the regions next the equator and torrid zone are uninhabitable on account of the heat, those next the poles on account of the cold, but those in the middle are mild, and fitted for the habitation of man.

Posidonius, in placing two zones under the tropics, pays no regard to the reasons which influenced the division into five zones, nor is his division equally appropriate. It is no more than if he were to form his division into zones merely according to the [countries inhabited] by different nations, calling one [Pg 147] the Ethiopian, another the Scythian and Keltic,640 and a third the Intermediate zone.

2. Polybius, indeed, is wrong in bounding certain of his zones by the arctic circles,641 namely, the two which lie under them, and the two between these and the tropics. The impropriety of using shifting points to mark the limits of those which are fixed has been remarked before; and we have likewise objected to the plan of making the tropics the boundary of the torrid zone. However, in dividing the torrid zone into two parts [Polybius] seems to have been influenced by no inconsiderable reason, the same which led us to regard the whole earth as properly divided by the equator into two hemispheres, north and south. We at once see that by means of this division the torrid zone is divided into two parts, thus establishing a kind of uniformity; each hemisphere consisting of three entire zones, respectively similar to each other. Thus this partition642 will admit of a division into six zones, but the other does not allow of it at all. Supposing you cut the earth into two portions by a line drawn through the poles, you can find no sufficient cause for dividing the eastern and western hemispheres into six zones; on the other hand, five would be preferable. For since both the portions of the torrid zone, divided by the equator, are similar and contiguous to each other, it would seem out of place and superfluous to separate them; whereas the temperate and frigid zones respectively resemble each other, although lying apart. Wherefore, supposing the whole earth to consist of these two hemispheres, it is sufficient to divide them into five zones. If there be a temperate region under the equator, as Eratosthenes asserts, and is admitted by Polybius, (who adds, that it is the most elevated part of the earth,643 and consequently subject to the drenching rains occasioned [Pg 148] by the monsoons bringing up from the north innumerable clouds, which discharge themselves on the highest lands,) it would be better to suppose this a third narrow temperate zone, than to extend the two temperate zones within the circles of the tropics. This supposition is supported by the statements of Posidonius, that the course of the sun, whether in the ecliptic, or from east to west, appears most rapid in the region [of which we are speaking], because the rotations of that luminary are performed with a speed increased in proportion to the greater size of the circle.644

3. Posidonius blames Polybius for asserting that the region of the earth, situated under the equator, is the highest, since a spherical body being equal all round, no part can be described as high; and as to mountainous districts, there are none under the equator, it is on the contrary a flat country, about the same level as the sea; as for the rains which swell the Nile, they descend from the mountains of Ethiopia. Although advancing this, he afterwards seems to adopt the other opinion, for he says that he fancies there may be mountains under the equator, around which the clouds assembling from both of the temperate zones, produce violent rains. Here is one manifest contradiction; again, in stating that the land under the equator is mountainous, another contradiction appears. For they say that the ocean is confluent, how then can they place mountains in the midst of it? unless they mean to say that there are islands. However, whether such be the fact does not lie within the province of geography to determine, the inquiry would better be left to him who makes the ocean in particular his study.

4. Posidonius, in speaking of those who have sailed round Africa, tells us that Herodotus was of opinion that some of those sent out by Darius actually performed this enterprise;645 and [Pg 149] that Heraclides of Pontus, in a certain dialogue, introduces one of the Magi presenting himself to Gelon,646 and declaring that he had performed this voyage; but he remarks that this wants proof. He also narrates how a certain Eudoxus of Cyzicus,647 sent with sacrifices and oblations to the Corean games,648 travelled into Egypt in the reign of Euergetes II.;649 and being a learned man, and much interested in the peculiarities of different countries, he made interest with the king and his ministers on the subject, but especially for exploring the Nile. It chanced that a certain Indian was brought to the king by the [coast]-guard of the Arabian Gulf. They reported that they had found him in a ship, alone, and half dead: but that they neither knew who he was, nor where he came from, as he spoke a language they could not understand. He was placed in the hands of preceptors appointed to teach him the Greek language. On acquiring which, he related how he had started from the coasts of India, but lost his course, and reached Egypt alone, all his companions having perished with hunger; but that if he were restored to his country he would point out to those sent with him by the king, the route by sea to India. Eudoxus was of the number thus sent. He set sail with a good supply of presents, and brought back with him in exchange aromatics and precious stones, some of which the Indians collect from amongst the pebbles of the rivers, others they dig out of the earth, where they have been formed by the moisture, as crystals are formed with us.650

[He fancied that he had made his fortune], however, he was greatly deceived, for Euergetes took possession of the whole treasure. On the death of that prince, his widow, Cleopatra,651 assumed the reins of government, and Eudoxus was again despatched with a richer cargo than before. On [Pg 150] his journey back, he was carried by the winds above Ethiopia, and being thrown on certain [unknown] regions, he conciliated the inhabitants by presents of grain, wine, and cakes of pressed figs, articles which they were without; receiving in exchange a supply of water, and guides for the journey. He also wrote down several words of their language, and having found the end of a prow, with a horse carved on it, which he was told formed part of the wreck of a vessel coming from the west, he took it with him, and proceeded on his homeward course. He arrived safely in Egypt, where no longer Cleopatra, but her son,652 ruled; but he was again stripped of every thing on the accusation of having appropriated to his own uses a large portion of the merchandise sent out.

However, he carried the prow into the market-place, and exhibited it to the pilots, who recognised it as being come from Gades.653 The merchants [of that place] employing large vessels, but the lesser traders small ships, which they style horses, from the figures of that animal borne on the prow, and in which they go out fishing around Maurusia,654 as far as the Lixus.655 Some of the pilots professed to recognise the prow as that of a vessel which had sailed beyond the river Lixus, but had not returned.656

From this Eudoxus drew the conclusion, that it was possible to circumnavigate Libya; he therefore returned home, and having collected together the whole of his substance, set out on his travels. First he visited Dicæarchia,657 and then Marseilles, and afterwards traversed the whole coast as far as Gades. Declaring his enterprise everywhere as he journeyed, he gathered money sufficient to equip a great ship, and two boats, resembling those used by pirates. On board these he placed singing girls, physicians, and artisans of various kinds, [Pg 151] and launching into open sea, was carried towards India by steady westerly winds.658 However, they who accompanied him becoming wearied with the voyage, steered their course towards land, but much against his will, as he dreaded the force of the ebb and flow. What he feared actually occurred. The ship grounded, but gently, so that it did not break up at once, but fell to pieces gradually, the goods and much of the timber of the ship being saved. With these he built a third vessel, closely resembling a ship of fifty oars, and continuing his voyage, came amongst a people who spoke the same language as that some words of which he had on a former occasion committed to writing. He further discovered, that they were men of the same stock as those other Ethiopians, and also resembled those of the kingdom of Bogus.659 However, he abandoned his [intended] voyage to India, and returned home. On his voyage back he observed an uninhabited island, well watered and wooded, and carefully noted its position. Having reached Maurusia in safety, he disposed of his vessels, and travelled by land to the court of Bogus. He recommended that sovereign to undertake an expedition thither.

This, however, was prevented on account of the fear of the [king’s] advisers, lest the district should chance to expose them to treachery, by making known a route by which foreigners might come to attack them. Eudoxus, however, became aware, that although it was given out that he was himself to be sent on this proposed expedition, the real intent was to abandon him on some desert island. He therefore fled to the Roman territory, and passed thence into Iberia. Again, he equipped two vessels, one round and the other long, furnished with fifty oars, the latter framed for voyaging in the high seas, the other for coasting along the shores. He placed on board agricultural implements, seed, and builders, and hastened on the same voyage, determined, if it should prove too long, to winter on the island he had before observed, sow his seed, [Pg 152] and having reaped the harvest, complete the expedition he had intended from the beginning.

5. “Thus far,” says Posidonius, “I have followed the history of Eudoxus. What happened afterwards is probably known to the people of Gades and Iberia;” “but,” says he, “all these things only demonstrate more clearly the fact, that the inhabited earth is entirely surrounded by the ocean.”

“By no continent fettered in,
But boundless in its flow, and free from soil.”

Posidonius is certainly a most strange writer; he considers that the voyage of the Magus,660 related by Heraclides, wants sufficient evidence, and also the account given by Herodotus of those sent out [to explore] by Darius. But this Bergæan661 nonsense, either the coinage of his own brain, or of some other story-teller, in whom he trusts, he pretends to be worthy of our belief. But in the first place, what is there credible in this tale of the Indian missing his way? The Arabian Gulf, which resembles a river, is narrow, and in length is from 5000 to 10,000 stadia up to its mouth, where it is narrowest of all. It is not likely that the Indians in their voyage out would have entered this Gulf by mistake. The extreme narrowness of the mouth must have warned them of their error. And if they entered it voluntarily, then there was no excuse for introducing the pretext of mistake and uncertain winds. And how did they suffer all of themselves but one to perish through hunger? And how was it that this surviver was able to manage the ship, which could not have been a small one either, fitted as it was for traversing such vast seas? What must have been his aptitude in learning the language of the country, and thus being able to persuade the king of his competence, as leader of the expedition? And how came it that Euergetes was in want of such guides, so many being already acquainted with this sea? How was it that he who was sent by the inhabitants of Cyzicus to carry libations and sacrifices, should forsake his city and sail for India? How was it that so great an affair was [Pg 153] intrusted to him? And how came it that on his return, after being deprived of every thing contrary to expectation, and disgraced, a yet larger cargo of goods was intrusted to him? And when he had again returned into Ethiopia, what cause induced him to write down the words, or to inquire whence came the portion of the prow of the boat? For to learn that it was a ship of some sailing from the west, would have been no information to him, as he himself would have to sail from the west on his voyage back. When, on his return to Alexandria, he was detected in having appropriated to himself much of the merchandise, how came it that he was not punished, but allowed to go about interrogating the pilots, and exhibiting his bit of prow? And that one of these fellows actually recognised the relic, is it not delicious! Eudoxus too believed it, this is still richer; and inspired by the hope, hastens home, and then starts on a voyage beyond the Pillars of Hercules! But he could never have left Alexandria without a passport, still less after having stolen the royal property. To set sail on the sly was impossible, as the port and every other exit was kept by a numerous guard, which still exists, as we very well know who have lived in Alexandria for a long time, although it is not so strict since the Romans have had possession, but under the kings the guards were infinitely more alert. But allowing that he reached Gades, that he there constructed ships, and sailed thence with quite a royal fleet, when his vessel was shattered, by what means was he able to construct a third boat in a desert land? And when, being again on his voyage, he found that the Ethiopians of the West spoke the same language as those of the East, how came it that he, so proud of his travelling propensities, forgot the completion of his voyage, when he must have had so good an expectation that there was but little now left unexplored, but relinquishing these prospects, set his mind on the expedition being undertaken by Bogus? How did he become acquainted with the snare spread for him by that king? And what advantage would have accrued to Bogus by making away with the man, rather than by dismissing him? When Eudoxus learned the plot against himself, what means had he to escape to safer quarters? It is true that not one of these situations was actually impossible, but still they were difficult circumstances, such as one rarely escapes from by any prosperous fortune. How [Pg 154]ever, he always came off with good luck, notwithstanding he was never out of danger. Besides this, how did it happen, that having escaped from Bogus, he was not afraid to sail round Africa a second time, with all the requisites for taking up his abode on the island? All this too closely resembles the falsehoods of Pytheas, Euhemerus, and Antiphanes. They however may be pardoned; for their only aim was that of the juggler. But who can forgive a demonstrator and philosopher, and one too striving to be at the head of their order? it is really too bad!

6. However, he is right in attributing to earthquakes and other similar causes, which we also have enumerated, the risings, slips, and changes which at various periods come over the earth. He did well, too, in citing the opinion of Plato, “that the tradition concerning the Island of Atlantis might be received as something more than a mere fiction, it having been related by Solon on the authority of the Egyptian priests, that this island, almost as large as a continent, was formerly in existence, although now it had disappeared.” Posidonius thinks it better to quote this than to say, “He who brought it into existence can also cause it to disappear, as the poet did the wall of the Achivi.”662 He (Posidonius) is also of opinion that the emigration of the Cimbrians and other kindred races from their native territory, was gradual, and occasioned by the inundation of the sea, and by no means a sudden movement.663 He supposes that the length of the inhabited earth is about 70,000 stadia, being the half of the whole circle on which it is taken; so that, says he, starting from the west, one might, aided by a continual east wind, reach India in so many thousand stadia.

7. Next he undertakes to find fault with those who gave [Pg 155] to the continents their present division, instead of marking them out by lines drawn parallel to the equator, by which means the different animals, plants, and temperatures would have been distinguished, according as they approached the frigid or the torrid zones; so that each continent would have formed a kind of zone. Afterwards, however, he overturns and gives up altogether this view, bestowing every commendation on the existing system, and thus making his argument altogether worthless and of no avail. In fact, the various arrangements [of a country] are not the result of premeditation, any more than the diversities of nations or languages; they all depend on circumstances and chance. Arts, forms of government, and modes of life, arising from certain [internal] springs, flourish under whatever climate they may be situated; climate, however, has its influence, and therefore while some peculiarities are due to the nature of the country, others are the result of institutions and education. It is not owing to the nature of the country, but rather to their education, that the Athenians cultivate eloquence, while the Lacedæmonians do not; nor yet the Thebans, who are nearer still. Neither are the Babylonians and Egyptians philosophers by nature, but by reason of their institutions and education. In like manner the excellence of horses, oxen, and other animals, results not alone from the places where they dwell, but also from their breeding. Posidonius confounds all these distinctions.

In praising the division of the continents as it now stands, he advances as an argument the difference between the Indians and the Ethiopians of Libya, the former being more robust, and less dried by the heat of the climate. It is on this account that Homer, who includes them all under the title of Ethiopians, describes them as being separated into two divisions,

“These eastward situate, those toward the west.”664

[Crates], to support his hypothesis, supposes another inhabited earth, of which Homer certainly knew nothing; and says that the passage ought to be read thus, “towards the descending sun,” viz. when having passed the meridian, it begins to decline.

[Pg 156]

8. First, then, the Ethiopians next Egypt are actually separated into two divisions; one part being in Asia, the other in Libya, otherwise there is no distinction between them. But it was not on this account that Homer divided the Ethiopians, nor yet because he was acquainted with the physical superiority of the Indians, (for it is not probable that Homer had the slightest idea of the Indians, since, according to the assertion of Eudoxus, Euergetes was both ignorant of India, and of the voyage thither,) but his division rather resulted from the cause we formerly mentioned. We have shown that as for the alteration of Crates, it makes no difference whether it be read so or not. Posidonius, however, says that it does make a difference, and would be better altered into “towards the descending [sun].” But in what can this be said to differ from “towards the west,” since the whole section of the hemisphere west of the meridian is styled “the west,” not only the mere semicircle of the horizon. This is manifested by the following expression of Aratus,

“Where the extremities of the west and east blend together.”665

However, if the reading of Posidonius be preferable to that of Crates, any one may likewise claim for it a superiority over that of Aristarchus. So much for Posidonius. There are, however, many particulars relating to Geography, which we shall bring under discussion; others relating to Physics, which must be examined elsewhere, or altogether disregarded; for he is much too fond of imitating Aristotle’s propensity for diving into causes, a subject which we [Stoics] scrupulously avoid, simply because of the extreme darkness in which all causes are enveloped.


1. Polybius, in his Chorography of Europe, tells us that it is not his intention to examine the writings of the ancient geographers, but the statements of those who have criticised them, [Pg 157] such as Dicæarchus, Eratosthenes, (who was the last of those who [in his time] had laboured on geography,) and Pytheas, by whom many have been deceived. It is this last writer who states that he travelled all over Britain on foot, and that the island is above 40,000 stadia in circumference. It is likewise he who describes Thule and other neighbouring places, where, according to him, neither earth, water, nor air exist, separately, but a sort of concretion of all these, resembling marine sponge, in which the earth, the sea, and all things were suspended, thus forming, as it were, a link to unite the whole together. It can neither be travelled over nor sailed through. As for the substance, he affirms that he has beheld it with his own eyes; the rest, he reports on the authority of others. So much for the statements of Pytheas, who tells us, besides, that after he had returned thence, he traversed the whole coasts of Europe from Gades to the Don.

2. Polybius asks, “How is it possible that a private individual, and one too in narrow circumstances, could ever have performed such vast expeditions by sea and land? And how could Eratosthenes, who hesitates whether he may rely on his statements in general, place such entire confidence in what that writer narrates concerning Britain, Gades, and Iberia?” says he, “it would have been better had Eratosthenes trusted to the Messenian666 rather than to this writer. The former [Pg 158] merely pretends to have sailed into one [unknown] country, viz. Panchæa, but the latter, that he has visited the whole of the north of Europe as far as the ends of the earth; which statement, even had it been made by Mercury, we should not have believed. Nevertheless Eratosthenes, who terms Euhemerus a Bergæan, gives credit to Pytheas, although even Dicæarchus would not believe him.”

This argument, “although even Dicæarchus would not believe him,” is ridiculous, just as if Eratosthenes ought to take for his standard a writer whom Polybius is himself for ever complaining of.667

The ignorance of Eratosthenes respecting the western and northern portions of Europe, we have before remarked. But both he and Dicæarchus must be pardoned for this, as neither of them were personally familiar with those localities. But how can one excuse Polybius and Posidonius? especially Polybius, who treats as mere hearsay what Eratosthenes and Dicæarchus report concerning the distances of various places; and many other matters, about which, though he blames them, he is not himself free from error. Dicæarchus states that there are 10,000 stadia from the Peloponnesus to the Pillars, and something above this number from the Peloponnesus to the recess of the Adriatic.668 He supposes 3000 stadia between the Peloponnesus and the Strait of Sicily; thus there would remain 7000 between the Strait of Sicily and the Pillars.669

“I will not inquire,” says Polybius, “whether the statement concerning the 3000 stadia is correct or not, but 7000 stadia [Pg 159] is not the correct measure [from the Strait of Messina to the Pillars of Hercules], whether taken along the sea-shore, or right across the sea. The coast closely resembles an obtuse angle, one side reaching to the Strait of Sicily, the other to the Pillars, the vertex being Narbonne. Now let a triangle be constructed, having for its base a right line drawn through the sea, and its sides forming the aforementioned angle. The side reaching from the Strait of Sicily to Narbonne is above 11,200 stadia, while the other is below 8000. Now the greatest distance from Europe to Libya, across the Tyrrhenian Sea,670 is not above 3000 stadia, and across the Sea of Sardinia671 it is less still. But supposing that it too is 3000 stadia, add to this 2000 stadia, the depth of the bay at Narbonne, as a perpendicular from the vertex to the base of the obtuse-angled triangle. It will, then, be clear even to the geometrical powers of a child, that the entire coast from the Strait of Sicily to the Pillars, does not exceed by more than 500 stadia the right line drawn across the sea; adding to these the 3000 stadia from the Peloponnesus to the Strait of Sicily, the whole taken together will give a straight line672 above double the length assigned by Dicæarchus; and, according to his system, you must add in addition to these the stadia at the recess of the Adriatic.”

3. True, dear Polybius, (one might say,) this error [of Dicæarchus] is manifested by the proof which you yourself have given when you inform us that from the Peloponnesus to Leucas673 there are 700 stadia; from thence to Corcyra674 the same number; and the same number again from Corcyra to the Ceraunian Mountains;675 and from the Ceraunian Mountains to Iapygia,676 following the coast of Illyria on the right, 6150 stadia.677 But the statement of Dicæarchus, that the [Pg 160] distance from the Strait of Sicily to the Pillars is 7000 stadia, and also your view of the matter, are both of them equally incorrect. For almost every one is agreed that the distance measured straight across the sea is 12,000 stadia, and this coincides with the received calculation of the length of the inhabited earth, which is estimated at above 70,000 stadia; the western portion of this from the Gulf of Issus678 to the extreme western point of Iberia is little less than 30,000 stadia, and is thus calculated: from the Gulf of Issus to Rhodes 5000 stadia; from thence to Cape Salmonium,679 which forms the eastern extremity of Crete, 1000; the length of Crete to Criu-metopon680 above 2000; thence to Cape Pachynus681 in Sicily 4500, and from Pachynus to the Strait of Sicily above 1000 stadia; the run from the Strait to the Pillars 12,000; and lastly, from the Pillars to the extremity of the said promontory682 of Iberia, about 3000 stadia.683

In addition to this, the perpendicular684 is not correct, supposing it true that Narbonne lies under almost the same parallel as Marseilles, and that this latter place is under the same parallel as Byzantium; which is the opinion of Hipparchus. Now the line drawn across the sea lies under the same parallel as the Strait [of the Pillars] and Rhodes; and the distance from Rhodes to Byzantium, which both lie under the same meridian, is estimated at about 5000 stadia; to which the above-mentioned perpendicular ought to be equal. But since they say that from the recess of the Galatic Gulf, the greatest distance across the sea from Europe to Libya is 5000 stadia, it seems to me that either there is some error in this statement, or that at this point Libya must incline very much to the north, and so come under the same parallel as the Pillars. Polybius is likewise mistaken in telling us that this said perpendicular terminates close to Sardinia; for instead of being close to Sardinia, it is far west thereof, having almost the whole of the sea of Liguria685 between it and that [Pg 161] island. Besides this he makes the length of the sea-coast too great; but this [error] is not so considerable [as the two preceding].

4. After this Polybius proceeds to set right the mistakes of Eratosthenes. In this he is sometimes successful; at others his corrections are for the worse. For example, Eratosthenes gives 300 stadia from Ithaca to Corcyra; Polybius makes it above 900. From Epidamnus to Thessalonica Eratosthenes allows 900 stadia; Polybius says above 2000. In these instances he is correct. But where Eratosthenes states that from Marseilles to the Pillars there are 7000 stadia, and from the Pyrenees [to the same place] 6000, and Polybius alters this to more than 9000 from Marseilles, and little less than 8000 from the Pyrenees,686 he is quite mistaken, and not so near to the truth as Eratosthenes. For all are now agreed that, barring the indirectness of the roads, the whole length of Iberia is not more than 6000 stadia687 from the Pyrenees to its western limits; notwithstanding Polybius gives 8000 stadia for the length of the river Tagus, from its source to its outlets, and this in a straight line without any reference to its sinuosities, which in fact never enter into the geographical estimate, although the sources of the Tagus are above 1000 stadia from the Pyrenees. His remark is quite correct, that Eratosthenes knew little about Iberia, and on this account sometimes makes conflicting statements concerning it. He tells us, for example, that the portion of this country situated on the sea-coast as far as Gades is inhabited by Galatæ,688 who possess western Europe as far as Gades; nevertheless, in his account of Iberia he seems quite to have forgotten this, and makes no mention of these Galatæ whatever.

5. Again, however, Polybius makes an incorrect assertion, in stating that the whole length of Europe is unequal to that of Africa and Asia taken together. He tells us “that the entrance [Pg 162] at the Pillars corresponds in direction to the equinoctial west, and that the Don flows from the summer rising, consequently the length of Europe is less than that of Asia and Africa taken together by the space between the summer rising689 and the equinoctial rising,690 since Asia occupies the eastern portion of the northern semicircle. Now, in addition to the obscurity which Polybius throws over subjects which might have been simply stated, it is false that the river Don flows from the summer rising. For all who are acquainted with these localities inform us that this river flows from the north into the Mæotis, so that the mouth of the river lies under the same meridian as that of the Mæotis; and so in fact does the whole river as far as is known.691

6. Equally unworthy of credit is the statement of those who tell us, that the Don rises in the vicinity of the Danube, and flows from the west; they do not remember that between these are the Dniester, the Dnieper, and the Bog, all great rivers, which flow [into the Euxine Sea]; one runs parallel to the Danube, the other two to the Don. Now if at the present day we are ignorant of the sources both of the Dniester, and also of the Dnieper and Bog, the regions farther north must certainly be still less known. It is therefore a fictitious and idle assertion, that the Don crosses these rivers, and then turns northward on its way to discharge itself into the Mæotis, it being well known that the outlets to this river are in the most northern and eastern portions of the lake.692

No less idle is the statement which has also been advanced, that the Don, after crossing the Caucasus, flows northward, and then turns towards the Mæotis.693 No one, however, [with the exception of Polybius,] made this river flow from the east. If such were its course, our best geographers would never [Pg 163] have told us that its direction was contrary to that of the Nile, and, so to speak, diametrically opposite thereto, as if the course of both rivers lay under the same meridian.

7. Further, the length of the inhabited earth is measured on a line parallel with the equator, as it is in this direction that its greatest length lies: in the same way with respect to each of the continents, we must take their length as it lies between two meridians. The measure of these lengths consists of a certain number of stadia, which we obtain either by going over the places themselves, or roads or ways parallel thereto. Polybius abandons this method, and adopts the new way of taking the segment of the northern semicircle comprised between the summer rising and the equinoctial rising. But no one ought to calculate by variable rules or measures in determining the length of fixed distances: nor yet should he make use of the phenomena of the heavens, which appear different when observed from different points, for distances which have their length determined by themselves and remain unchanged. The length of a country never varies, but depends upon itself; whereas, the equinoctial rising and setting, and the summer and winter rising and setting, depend not on themselves, but on our position [with respect to them]. As we shift from place to place, the equinoctial rising and setting, and the winter and summer rising and setting, shift with us; but the length of a continent always remains the same. To make the Don and the Nile the bounds of these continents, is nothing out of the way, but it is something strange to employ for this purpose the equinoctial rising and the summer rising.

8. Of the many promontories formed by Europe, a better description is given by Polybius than by Eratosthenes; but even his is not sufficient. Eratosthenes only names three; one at the Pillars of Hercules, where Iberia is situated; a second at the Strait of Sicily, and containing Italy; the third terminated by the Cape of Malea,694 comprising all the countries situated between the Adriatic, the Euxine, and the Don. The two former of these Polybius describes in the same manner [Pg 164] as Eratosthenes, but the third, which is equally terminated by the Cape of Malea695 and Cape Sunium,696 [he makes to] comprehend the whole of Greece, Illyria, and some portion of Thrace. [He supposes] a fourth, containing the Thracian Chersonesus and the countries contiguous to the Strait,697 betwixt Sestos and Abydos. This is occupied by the Thracians. Also a fifth, about the Kimmerian Bosphorus and the mouth of the Mæotis. Let us allow [to Polybius] his two former [promontories], they are clearly distinguished by unmistakeable bays; the first by the bay between Calpé698 and the Sacred Promontory699 where Gades700 is situated, as also by the sea between the Pillars and Sicily; the second701 by the latter sea and the Adriatic,702 although it may be objected that the extremity of Iapygia,703 being a promontory in itself, causes Italy to have a double cape. But as for the remaining [promontories of Polybius], they are plainly much more irregular, and composed of many parts, and require some other division. So likewise his plan of dividing [Europe] into six parts, similar to that of the promontories, is liable to objection.

However, we will set to rights each of these errors separately, as we meet with them, as well as the other blunders into which he has fallen in his description of Europe, and the journey round Africa. For the present we think that we have sufficiently dwelt on those of our predecessors whom we have thought proper to introduce as testimonies in our behalf, that both in the matter of correction and addition we had ample cause to undertake the present work.

[Pg 165]


1. After these criticisms on the writers who have preceded us, we must now confine our attention to the fulfilment of our promise. We start with a maxim we laid down at the commencement, that whoever undertakes to write a Chorography, should receive as axioms certain physical and mathematical propositions, and frame the rest of his work in accordance with, and in full reliance on, these principles. We have already stated [our opinion], that neither builder nor architect could build house or city properly and as it ought to be, unless acquainted with the clima of the place, its position in respect to celestial appearances, its shape, magnitude, degree of heat and cold, and similar facts; much less should he [be without such information] who undertakes to describe the situation of the various regions of the inhabited earth.

Represent to the mind on one and the same plane-surface Iberia and India with the intermediate countries, and define likewise the west, the east, and the south, which are common to every country. To a man already acquainted with the arrangement and motions of the heavens, and aware that in reality the surface of the earth is spherical, although here for the sake of illustration represented as a plane, this will give a sufficiently exact idea of the geographical [position of the various countries], but not to one who is unacquainted with those matters. The tourist travelling over vast plains like those of Babylon, or journeying by sea, may fancy that the whole country stretched before, behind, and on either side of him is a plane-surface; he may be unacquainted with the counter-indications of the celestial phenomena, and with the motions and appearance of the sun and stars, in respect to us. But such facts as these should ever be present to the mind of those who compose Geographies. The traveller, whether by sea or land, is directed by certain common appearances, which answer equally for the direction both of the unlearned and of the man of the world. Ignorant of astronomy, and unacquainted with the varied aspect of the heavens, he beholds [Pg 166] the sun rise and set, and attain the meridian, but without considering how this takes place. Such knowledge could not aid the object he has in view, any more than to know whether the country he chances to be in may be under the same latitude as his own or not. Even should he bestow a slight attention to the subject, on all mathematical points he will adopt the opinions of the place; and every country has certain mistaken views of these matters. But it is not for any particular nation, nor for the man of the world who cares nothing for abstract mathematics, still less is it for the reaper or ditcher, that the geographer labours; but it is for him who is convinced that the earth is such as mathematicians declare it to be, and who admits every other fact resulting from this hypothesis. He requests that those who approach him shall have already settled this in their minds as a fact, that they may be able to lend their whole attention to other points. He will advance nothing which is not a consequence of these primary facts; therefore those who hear him, if they have a knowledge of mathematics, will readily be able to turn his instructions to account; for those who are destitute of this information he does not pretend to expound Geography.

2. Those who write on the science of Geography should trust entirely for the arrangement of the subject they are engaged on to the geometers, who have measured the whole earth; they in their turn to astronomers; and these again to natural philosophers. Now natural philosophy is one of the perfect sciences.704

The “perfect sciences” they define as those which, depending on no external hypothesis, have their origin, and the evidence of their propositions, in themselves. Here are a few of the facts established by natural philosophers.705

The earth and heavens are spheroidal.

The tendency of all bodies having weight, is to a centre.

Further, the earth being spheroidal, and having the same [Pg 167] centre as the heavens, is motionless, as well as the axis which passes through both it and the heavens. The heavens turn round both the earth and its axis, from east to west. The fixed stars turn round with it, at the same rate as the whole.706 These fixed stars follow in their course parallel circles; the principal of which are, the equator, the two tropics, and the arctic circles. While the planets, the sun, and the moon, describe certain oblique circles comprehended within the zodiac. Admitting these points in whole or in part, astronomers proceed to treat of other matters, [such as] the motions [of the stars], their revolutions, eclipses, size, relative distance, and a thousand similar particulars. On their side, geometers, when measuring the size of the entire earth, avail themselves of the data furnished by the natural philosopher and astronomer; and the geographer on his part makes use of those of the geometer.

3. The heavens and the earth must be supposed to be divided each into five zones, and the celestial zones to possess the same names as those below. The motives for such a division into zones we have already detailed. These zones may be distinguished by circles drawn parallel to the equator, on either side of it. Two of these will separate the torrid from the temperate zones, and the remaining two, the temperate from the frigid. To each celestial circle there shall be one corresponding on earth, and bearing the same name, and likewise zone for zone. The [two] zones capable of being inhabited, are styled temperate. The remaining [three] are uninhabitable, one on account of the heat, the others because of the extreme cold. The same is the case with regard to the tropical, and also to the arctic circles, in respect of those countries for which arctic circles can be said to exist. Circles on the earth are supposed, corresponding to those in the heavens, and bearing the same name, one for one.

As the whole heaven is separated into two parts by its equator, it follows that the earth must, by its equator, be similarly divided. The two hemispheres, both celestial and [Pg 168] terrestrial, are distinguished into north and south. Likewise the torrid zone, which is divided into two halves by the equator, is distinguished as having a northern and southern side. Hence it is evident that of the two temperate zones, one should be called northern, the other southern, according to the hemisphere to which it belongs. The northern hemisphere is that containing the temperate zone, in which looking from east to west, you will have the pole on your right hand, and the equator on the left, or, in which, looking south, the west will be on the right hand, and the east on the left. The southern hemisphere is exactly the contrary to this.

It is clear that we are in one or other of these hemispheres, namely, the north; we cannot be in both:

“Broad rivers roll, and awful floods between,
But chief the ocean.”707

And next is the torrid zone. But neither is there any ocean in the midst of the earth wherein we dwell, dividing the whole thereof, nor yet have we any torrid region. Nor is there any portion of it to be found in which the climata are opposite to those which have been described as characterizing the northern temperate zone.

4. Assuming these data, and availing himself likewise of astronomical observations, by which the position of every place is properly determined, whether with respect to the circles parallel to the equator, or to those which cut these latter at right angles, in the direction of the poles, the geometer measures the region in which he dwells, and [judges of the extent of] others by comparing the distance [between the corresponding celestial signs]. By this means he discovers the distance from the equator to the pole, which is a quarter of the largest circle of the earth; having obtained this, he has only to multiply by four, the result is the [measure of the] perimeter of the globe.

In the same manner as he who takes the measures of the earth, borrows the foundation of his calculations from the astronomer, who himself is indebted to the natural philosopher, so in like manner the geographer adopts certain facts laid down as established by the geometer, before setting forth his [Pg 169] description of the earth we inhabit; its size, form, nature, and the proportion it bears to the whole earth. These latter points are the peculiar business of the geographer. He will next enter on a particular description of every thing deserving notice, whether on land or sea; he will likewise point out whatever has been improperly stated by those who have preceded him, especially by those who are regarded as chief authorities in these matters.708

5. Let it be supposed that the earth and sea together form a spheroidal body, and preserve one and the same level in all the seas. For though some portions of the earth may be higher, yet this bears so small a relation to the size of the whole mass, as need not be noticed. The spheroid in consequence is not so minutely exact as one might be made by the aid of a turner’s instrument, or as would answer the definition of a geometer, still in general appearance, and looked at roughly, it is a spheroid. Let the earth be supposed to consist of five zones, with (1.) the equatorial circle described round it, (2.) another parallel to this,709 and defining the frigid zone of the northern hemisphere, and (3.) a circle passing through the poles, and cutting the two preceding circles at right angles. The northern hemisphere contains two quarters of the earth, which are bounded by the equator and the circle passing through the poles.

Each of these [quarters] should be supposed to contain a four-sided district, its northern side being composed of one half of the parallel next the pole; its southern, by the half of the equator; and its remaining sides, by [two] segments of the circle drawn through the poles, opposite to each other, and equal in length. In one of these quadrilaterals (which of them is of no consequence) the earth that we inhabit is situated, surrounded by sea, and similar to an island. This, as we said before, is evident both to our senses and to our reason. But should any one doubt thereof, it makes no difference so far as Geography is concerned, whether you suppose the portion of the earth we inhabit to be an island, or only admit what we know from experience, viz. that whether you start [Pg 170] from the east or west, you may sail all round it. Certain intermediate spaces may have been left [unexplored], but these are as likely to be occupied by sea, as uninhabited lands. The object of the geographer is to describe known countries; those which are unknown he passes over equally with those beyond the limits of the inhabited earth. It will therefore be sufficient for describing the contour of the island we have been speaking of, if we join by a right line the utmost points which, up to this time, have been explored by voyagers along the coast on either side.

6. Let it be supposed that this island is contained in one of the above quadrilaterals; we must obtain its apparent magnitude by subtracting our hemisphere from the whole extent of the earth, from this take the half, and from this again the quadrilateral, in which we state our earth to be situated. We may judge also by analogy of the figure of the whole earth, by supposing that it accords with those parts with which we are acquainted. Now as the portion of the northern hemisphere, between the equator and the parallel next the [north] pole, resembles a vertebre or joint of the back-bone in shape, and as the circle which passes through the pole divides at the same time the hemisphere and the vertebre into two halves, thus forming the quadrilateral; it is clear that this quadrilateral to which the Atlantic is adjacent, is but the half of the vertebre; while at the same time the inhabited earth, which is an island in this, and shaped like a chlamys or soldier’s cloak, occupies less than the half of the quadrilateral. This is evident from geometry, also710 from the extent of the surrounding sea, which covers the extremities of the continents on either side, compressing them into a smaller figure, and thirdly, by the greatest length and breadth [of the earth itself]. The length being 70,000 stadia, enclosed almost entirely by a sea, impossible to navigate owing to its wildness and vast extent, and the breadth 30,000 stadia, bounded by regions rendered uninhabitable on account either of their intense heat or cold. That portion of the quadrilateral which is unfitted for habitation on account of the heat, contains in breadth 8800 stadia, and in its greatest length 126,000 stadia, which is equal to one half of the equator, and [Pg 171] larger than one half the inhabited earth; and what is left is still more.

7. These calculations are nearly synonymous with those furnished by Hipparchus, who tells us, that supposing the size of the globe as stated by Eratosthenes to be correct, we can then subtract from it the extent of the inhabited earth, since in noting the celestial appearances [as they are seen] in different countries, it is not of much importance whether we make use of this measure, or that furnished by later writers. Now as the whole circle of the equator according to Eratosthenes contains 252,000 stadia, the quarter of this would be 63,000, that is, the space from the equator to the pole contains fifteen of the sixty divisions711 into which the equator itself is divided. There are four [divisions] between the equator and the summer tropic or parallel passing through Syene. The distances for each locality are calculated by the astronomical observations.

It is evident that Syene is under the tropic, from the fact that during the summer solstice the gnomon at mid-day casts no shadow there. As for the meridian of Syene, it follows very nearly the course of the Nile from Meroe to Alexandria, a distance of about 10,000 stadia. Syene itself is situated about midway between these places, consequently from thence to Meroe is a distance of 5000 stadia. Advancing 3000 stadia southward in a right line, we come to lands unfitted for habitation on account of the heat. Consequently the parallel which bounds these places, and which is the same as that of the Cinnamon Country, is to be regarded as the boundary and commencement of the habitable earth on the south. If, then, 3000 stadia be added to the 5000 between Syene and Meroe, there will be altogether 8000 stadia [from Syene] to the [southern] extremity of the habitable earth. But from Syene to the equator there are 16,800 stadia, (for such is the amount of the four-sixtieths, each sixtieth being equivalent to 4200 stadia,) and consequently from the [southern] boundaries of the habitable earth to the equator there are 8800 stadia, and from Alexandria 21,800.712 Again, every one is [Pg 172] agreed that the voyage from Alexandria to Rhodes, and thence by Caria and Ionia to the Troad, Byzantium, and the Dnieper, is in a straight line with the course of the Nile.713

Taking therefore these distances, which have been ascertained by voyages, we have only to find out how far beyond the Dnieper the land is habitable, (being careful always to continue in the same straight line,) and we shall arrive at a knowledge of the northern boundaries of our earth.

Beyond the Dnieper dwell the Roxolani,714 the last of the Scythians with which we are acquainted; they are nevertheless more south than the farthest nations715 we know of beyond Britain. Beyond these Roxolani the country is uninhabitable on account of the severity of the climate. The Sauromatæ716 who live around the Mæotis, and the other Scythians717 as far as the Scythians of the East, dwell farther south.

[Pg 173] 8. It is true that Pytheas of Marseilles affirms that the farthest country north of the British islands is Thule; for which place he says the summer tropic and the arctic circle is all one. But he records no other particulars concerning it; [he does not say] whether Thule is an island, or whether it continues habitable up to the point where the summer tropic becomes one with the arctic circle.718 For myself, I fancy that the northern boundaries of the habitable earth are greatly south of this. Modern writers tell us of nothing beyond Ierne, which lies just north of Britain, where the people live miserably and like savages on account of the severity of the cold. It is here in my opinion the bounds of the habitable earth ought to be fixed.

If on the one hand the parallels of Byzantium and Marseilles are the same, as Hipparchus asserts on the faith of Pytheas, (for he719 says that at Byzantium the gnomon indicates the same amount of shadow as Pytheas gives for Marseilles,) and at the same time the parallel of the Dnieper is distant from Byzantium about 3800 stadia, it follows, if we take into consideration the distance between Marseilles and Britain, that the circle which passes over the Dnieper traverses Britain as well.720 But the truth is that Pytheas, who so frequently misleads people, deceives in this instance too.

It is generally admitted that a line drawn from the Pillars of Hercules, and passing over the Strait [of Messina], Athens, and Rhodes, would lie under the same parallel of latitude.721 It is likewise admitted, that the line in passing from the Pillars to the Strait of Sicily divides the Mediterranean through the [Pg 174] midst.722 Navigators tell us that the greatest distance from Keltica to Libya, starting from the bottom of the Galatic Bay, is 5000 stadia, and that this is likewise the greatest breadth of the Mediterranean. Consequently from the said line to the bottom of the bay is 2500 stadia; but to Marseilles the distance is rather less, in consequence of that city being more to the south than the bottom of the bay.723 But since from Rhodes to Byzantium is about 4900724 stadia, it follows that Byzantium must be far north of Marseilles.725 The distance from this latter city to Britain is about the same as from Byzantium to the Dnieper.726 How far it may be from Britain to the island of Ierne is not known. As to whether beyond it there may still be habitable lands, it is not our business to inquire, as we stated before. It is sufficient for our science to determine this in the same manner that we did the southern boundaries. We there fixed the bounds of the habitable earth at 3000 stadia south of Meroe (not that these were its exact limits, but because they were sufficiently near); so in this instance they should be placed about the same number of stadia north of Britain, certainly not more than 4000.727

[Pg 175] It would not serve any political purpose to be well acquainted with these distant places and the people who inhabit them; especially if they are islands whose inhabitants can neither injure us, nor yet benefit us by their commerce. The Romans might easily have conquered Britain, but they did not care to do so, as they perceived there was nothing to fear from the inhabitants, (they not being powerful enough to attack us,) and that they would gain nothing by occupying the land. Even now it appears that we gain more by the customs they pay, than we could raise by tribute, after deducting the wages of the soldiers necessary for guarding the island and exacting the taxes. And the other islands adjacent to this would be still more unproductive.

9. If, then, to the distance between Rhodes and the Dnieper be added four thousand stadia north of the latter place, the whole would come to 12,700 stadia; and since from Rhodes to the southern limit of the habitable earth there are 16,600 stadia, its total breadth from north to south would be under 30,000 stadia.728 Its length from west to east is stated at 70,000 stadia, the distance being measured from the extremities of Iberia to those of India, partly over the land and partly across the sea. That this length is contained within the quadrilateral aforesaid, is proved by the proportion borne by these parallels to the equator. Thus the length of the habitable earth is above twice its breadth. It has been compared [Pg 176] in figure to a chlamys, or soldier’s cloak, because if every part be carefully examined, it will be found that its breadth is greatly diminished towards the extremities, especially in the west.

10. We have now been tracing upon a spherical surface the region which we state to be occupied by the habitable earth; and whoever would represent the real earth as near as possible by artificial means, should make a globe like that of Crates, and upon this describe the quadrilateral within which his chart of geography is to be placed. For this purpose, however, a large globe is necessary, since the section mentioned, though but a very small portion of the entire sphere, must be capable of properly containing all the regions of the habitable earth, and presenting an accurate view of them to all those who wish to consult it. Any one who is able will certainly do well to obtain such a globe. But it should have a diameter of not less than ten feet: those who cannot obtain a globe of this size, or one nearly as large, had better draw their chart on a plane-surface, of not less than seven feet. Draw straight lines, some parallel, for the parallels [of latitude], and others at right angles to these; we may easily imagine how the eye can transfer the figure and extent [of these lines] from a plane-surface to one that is spherical. What we have just observed of the circles in general, may be said with equal truth touching the oblique circles. On the globe it is true that the meridians of each country passing the pole have a tendency to unite in a single point, nevertheless on the plane-surface of the map, there would be no advantage if the right lines alone which should represent the meridians were drawn slightly to converge. The necessity for such a proceeding would scarcely ever be really felt. Even on our globe itself729 the tendency of those meridians (which are transferred to the map as right lines) to converge is not much, nor any thing near so obvious as their circular tendency.

11. In what follows we shall suppose the chart drawn on a plane-surface; and our descriptions shall consist of what we ourselves have observed in our travels by land and sea, and of what we conceive to be credible in the statements and writings of others. For ourselves, in a westerly direction we [Pg 177] have travelled from Armenia to that part of Tyrrhenia730 which is over against Sardinia; and southward, from the Euxine to the frontiers of Ethiopia.731 Of all the writers on Geography, not one can be mentioned who has travelled over a wider extent of the countries described than we have. Some may have gone farther to the west, but then they have never been so far east as we have; again, others may have been farther east, but not so far west; and the same with respect to north and south. However, in the main, both we and they have availed ourselves of the reports of others, from which to describe the form, the size, and the other peculiarities of the country, what they are and how many, in the same way that the mind forms its conceptions from the information of the senses. The figure, colour, and size of an apple, its scent, feel to the touch, and its flavour, are particulars communicated by the senses, from which the mind forms its conception of an apple. So in large figures, the senses observe the various parts, while the mind combines into one conception what is thus seen. And in like manner, men eager after knowledge, trusting to those who have been to various places, and to [the descriptions of] travellers in this or that country, gather into one sketch a view of the whole habitable earth.

In the same way, the generals perform every thing, nevertheless, they are not present every where, but most of their success depends on others, since they are obliged to trust to messengers, and issue their commands in accordance with the reports of others. To pretend that those only can know who have themselves seen, is to deprive hearing of all confidence, which, after all, is a better servant of knowledge than sight itself.

12. Writers of the present day can describe with more certainty [than formerly] the Britons, the Germans, and the dwellers on either side of the Danube, the Getæ,732 the Tyrigetæ, the Bastarnæ,733 the tribes dwelling by the Caucasus, such as the [Pg 178] Albanians and Iberians.734 We are besides possessed of a description of Hyrcania735 and Bactriana in the Histories of Parthia written by such men as Apollodorus of Artemita,736 who have detailed the boundaries [of those countries] with greater accuracy than other geographers.

The entrance of a Roman army into Arabia Felix under the command of my friend and companion Ælius Gallus,737 and the traffic of the Alexandrian merchants whose vessels pass up the Nile and Arabian Gulf738 to India, have rendered us much better acquainted with these countries than our predecessors were. I was with Gallus at the time he was prefect of Egypt, and accompanied him as far as Syene and the frontiers of Ethiopia, and I found that about one hundred and twenty ships sail from Myos-hormos739 to India, although, in the time of the Ptolemies, scarcely any one would venture on this voyage and the commerce with the Indies.

13. Our first and most imperative duty740 then, both in respect to science and to the necessities of the man of business, is to undertake to lay down the projection of the different countries on the chart in as clear a style as possible, and to signify at the same time the relation and proportion they bear to the whole earth. For such is the geographer’s peculiar province. It belongs to another science to give an exact description of the whole earth, and of the entire vertebre of either zone, and [Pg 179] as to whether the vertebre in the opposite quarter of the earth is inhabited. That such is the case is most probable, but not that it is inhabited by the same race of men as dwell with us. And it must therefore be regarded as another habitable earth. We however have only to describe our own.

14. In its figure the habitable earth resembles a chlamys, or soldier’s cloak, the greatest breadth of which would be indicated by a line drawn in the direction of the Nile, commencing from the parallel of the Cinnamon Country, and the Island of the Egyptian Exiles, and terminating at the parallel of Ierna; and its length by a line drawn from the west at right angles to the former, passing by the Pillars of Hercules and the Strait of Sicily to Rhodes and the Gulf of Issus,741 then proceeding along the chain of the Taurus, which divides Asia, and terminating in the Eastern Ocean,742 between India and the Scythians dwelling beyond Bactriana.

We must therefore fancy to ourselves a parallelogram, and within it a chlamys-shaped figure, described in such a manner that the length of the one figure may correspond to the length and size of the other, and likewise breadth to breadth. The habitable earth will therefore be represented by this kind of chlamys. We have before said that its breadth is marked out by parallels bounding its sides, and separating on either side the portions that are habitable from those that are not. On the north [these parallels] pass over Ierna,743 and on the side of the torrid zone over the Cinnamon Country. These lines being produced east and west to the opposite extremities of the habitable earth, form, when joined by the perpendiculars falling from their extremities, a kind of parallelogram. That within this the habitable earth is contained is evident, since neither its greatest breadth nor length project beyond. That in configuration it resembles a chlamys is also clear, from the fact that at either end of its length, the extremities taper to a point.744 Owing to the encroachments of the sea, it [Pg 180] also loses something in breadth. This we know from those who have sailed round its eastern and western points. They inform us that the island called Taprobana745 is much to the south of India, but that it is nevertheless inhabited, and is situated opposite to the island of the Egyptians and the Cinnamon Country, as the temperature of their atmospheres is similar. On the other side the country about the embouchure of the Hyrcanian Sea746 is farther north than the farthest Scythians who dwell beyond India, and Ierna still more so. It is likewise stated of the country beyond the Pillars of Hercules, that the most western point of the habitable earth is the promontory of the Iberians named the Sacred Promontory.747 It lies nearly in a line with Gades, the Pillars of Hercules, the Strait of Sicily, and Rhodes;748 for they say that the horologes accord, as also the periodical winds, and the duration of the longest nights and days, which consist of fourteen and a half equinoctial hours. From the coast of Gades and Iberia ... is said to have been formerly observed.749

Posidonius relates, that from the top of a high house in a town about 400 stadia distant from the places mentioned, he perceived a star which he believed to be Canopus, both in consequence of the testimony of those who having proceeded a little to the south of Iberia affirmed that they could perceive it, and also of the tradition preserved at Cnidus; for the observatory of Eudoxus, from whence he is reported to have viewed Canopus, is not much higher than these houses; and Cnidus is under the same parallel as Rhodes, which is likewise that of Gades and its sea-coast.

15. Sailing thence, Libya lies to the south. Its most western portions project a little beyond Gades; it afterwards [Pg 181] forms a narrow promontory receding towards the east and south, and becoming slightly broader, till it touches upon the western Ethiopians, who are the last750 of the nations situated below Carthage, and adjoin the parallel of the Cinnamon Country. They, on the contrary, who sail from the Sacred Promontory,751 towards the Artabri,752 journey northwards, having Lusitania753 on the right hand. The remaining portion forms an obtuse angle towards the east as far as the extremities of the Pyrenees which terminate at the ocean. Northward and opposite to this are the western coasts of Britain. Northward and opposite to the Artabri are the islands denominated Cassiterides,754 situated in the high seas, but under nearly the same latitude as Britain. From this it appears to what a degree the extremities of the habitable earth are narrowed by the surrounding sea.

16. Such being the configuration of the whole earth, it will be convenient to take two straight lines, cutting each other at right angles, and running the one through its greatest length, and the other through its breadth. The former of these lines will represent one of the parallels, and the latter one of the meridians.755 Afterwards we must imagine other lines parallel to either of these respectively, and dividing both the [Pg 182] land and sea with which we are acquainted. By this means the form of the habitable earth will appear more clearly to be such as we have described it; likewise the extent of the various lines, whether traced through its length or breadth, and the latitudes [of places], will also be more clearly distinguished, whether north or south, as also [the longitudes] whether east or west. However, these right lines should be drawn through places that are known. Two have already been thus fixed upon, I mean the two middle [lines] running through its length and breadth, which have been already explained, and by means of these the others may easily be determined. These lines will serve us as marks to distinguish countries situated under the same parallel, and otherwise to determine different positions both in respect to the other portions of the earth, and also of the celestial appearances.

17. The ocean it is which principally divides the earth into various countries, and moulds its form. It creates bays, seas, straits, isthmuses, peninsulas, and capes; while rivers and mountains serve to the same purpose. It is by these means that continents, nations, and the position of cities are capable of being clearly distinguished, together with those various other details of which a chorographical chart is full. Amongst these latter are the multitude of islands scattered throughout the seas, and along every coast; each of them distinguished by some good or bad quality, by certain advantages or disadvantages, due either to nature or to art.

The natural advantages [of a place] should always be mentioned, since they are permanent. Advantages which are adventitious are liable to change, although the majority of those which have continued for any length of time should not be passed over, nor even those which, although but recent, have yet acquired some note and celebrity. For those which continue, come to be regarded by posterity not as works of art, but as the natural advantages of the place; these therefore it is evident we must notice. True it is, that to many a city we may apply the reflection of Demosthenes756 on Olynthus [Pg 183] and its neighbouring towns: “So completely have they vanished, that no one who should now visit their sites could say that they had ever been inhabited!”

Still we are gratified by visiting these and similar localities, being desirous of beholding the traces of such celebrated places, and the tombs of famous men. In like manner we should record laws and forms of government no longer in existence, since these are serviceable to have in mind, equally with the remembrance of actions, whether for the sake of imitating or avoiding the like.

18. Continuing our former sketch, we now state that the earth which we inhabit contains numerous gulfs, formed by the exterior sea or ocean which surrounds it. Of these there are four principal. The northern, called the Caspian, by others designated the Hyrcanian Sea, the Persian and Arabian Gulfs, formed by the [Southern] Sea, the one being nearly opposite to the Caspian, the other to the Euxine; the fourth, which in size is much more considerable than the others, is called the Internal and Our Sea.757 It commences in the west at the Strait of the Pillars of Hercules, and continues in an easterly direction, but with varying breadth. Farther in, it becomes divided, and terminates in two gulfs; that on the left being called the Euxine Sea, while the other consists of the seas of Egypt, Pamphylia, and Issus. All these gulfs formed by the exterior sea, have a narrow entrance; those of the Arabian Gulf, however, and the Pillars of Hercules are smaller than the rest.758 The land which surrounds these, as before remarked, consists of three divisions. Of these, the configuration of Europe is the most irregular. Libya, on the contrary, is the most regular; while Asia holds a middle place between the two. In all of these continents, the regularity or irregularity of form relates merely to the interior coasts; the exterior, with the exception of the gulfs before [Pg 184] mentioned, is unindented, and, as I have stated, resembles a chlamys in its form; any slight differences being of course overlooked, as in large matters what is insignificant passes for nothing. Since in geographical descriptions we not only aim at portraying the configuration and extent of various places, but also their common boundaries, we will remark here, as we have done before, that the coasts of the Internal Sea759 present a greater variety in their appearance than those of the Exterior [Ocean]; the former is also much better known, its climate is more temperate, and more civilized cities and nations are here than there. We are also anxious to be informed where the form of government, the arts, and whatever else ministers to intelligence, produce the greatest results. Interest will always lead us to where the relations of commerce and society are most easily established, and these are advantages to be found where government is administered, or rather where it is well administered. In each of these particulars, as before remarked, Our Sea760 possesses great advantages, and here therefore we will begin our description.

19. This gulf,761 as before stated, commences at the Strait of the Pillars; this at its narrowest part is said to be 70 stadia. Having sailed down a distance of 120 stadia, the shores widen considerably, especially to the left, and you behold a vast sea, bounded on the right by the shore of Libya as far as Carthage, and on the opposite side by those of Iberia and Keltica as far as Narbonne and Marseilles, thence by the Ligurian,762 and finally by the Italian coast to the Strait of Sicily. The eastern side of this sea is formed by Sicily and the straits on either side of it. That next Italy being 7 stadia [in breadth], and that next Carthage 1500 stadia. The line drawn from the Pillars to the lesser strait of 7 stadia, forms part of the line to Rhodes and the Taurus, and intersects the sea under discussion about its middle; this line is said to be 12,000 stadia, which is accordingly the length of the sea. Its greatest breadth is about 5000 stadia, and extends from the Galatic Gulf, between Marseilles and Narbonne, to the opposite coast of Libya.

[Pg 185] The portion of the sea which washes Libya is called the Libyan Sea; that surrounding the land opposite is designated by the respective names of the Iberian, the Ligurian,763 and the Sardinian Seas, while the remaining portion as far as Sicily is named the Tyrrhenian Sea.764 All along the coast between the Tyrrhenian and Ligurian Seas, there are numerous islands, the largest of which are Sardinia and Cyrnus,765 always excepting Sicily, which is larger and more fertile than any of our islands. The remainder are much smaller. Of this number are, in the high sea, Pandataria766 and Pontia,767 and close to the shore Æthalia,768 Planasia,769 Pithecussa,770 Prochyta,771 Capriæ,772 Leucosia,773 and many others. On the other774 side of the Ligurian shore, and along the rest of the coast as far as the Pillars, there are but few islands; the Gymnasiæ775 and Ebusus776 are of this number. There are likewise but few islands along the coasts of Libya and Sicily. We may mention however Cossura,777 Ægimurus,778 and the Lipari Islands, likewise called the Islands of Æolus.

20. After Sicily and the straits on either side of it,779 there are other seas, for instance, that opposite the Syrtes and the Cyrenaic,780 the Syrtes themselves, and the sea formerly called the Ausonian, but which, as it flows into and forms part of the Sea of Sicily, is now included under the latter name. The sea opposite to the Syrtes and the Cyrenaic is called the Libyan Sea; it extends as far as the Sea of Egypt.

The Lesser Syrtes781 is about 1600 stadia in circumference. On either side of its mouth lie the islands of Meninx782 and Kerkina.783 The Greater Syrtes784 is (according to Eratosthenes) 5000 stadia in circuit, and in depth 1800, from the Hesperides [Pg 186] 785 to Automala,786 and the frontier which separates the Cyrenaic from the rest of Libya. According to others, its circumference is only 4000 stadia, its depth 1500 stadia, and the breadth at its mouth the same.

The Sea of Sicily washes Italy, from the Strait of Rhegium787 to Locris,788 and also the eastern coast of Sicily from Messene789 to Syracuse790 and Pachynus.791 On the eastern side it reaches to the promontories of Crete, surrounds the greater part of Peloponnesus, and fills the Gulf of Corinth.792 On the north it advances to the Iapygian Promontory,793 the mouth of the Ionian Gulf,794 the southern parts of Epirus,795 as far as the Ambracic Gulf,796 and the continuation of the coast which forms the Corinthian Gulf, near the Peloponnesus.

The Ionian Gulf forms part of what we now call the Adriatic.797 Illyria forms its right side, and Italy as far as the recess where Aquileia is situated, the left.

The Adriatic stretches north and west; it is long and narrow, being in length about 6000 stadia, and its greatest breadth 1200. There are many islands situated here opposite the coasts of Illyria, such as the Absyrtides,798 Cyrictica,799 and the Libyrnides,800 also Issa,801 Tragurium,802 the Black Corcyra,803 and Pharos.804 Opposite to Italy are the Islands of Diomede.805 The [Pg 187] Sea of Sicily is said to be 4500 stadia from Pachynus to Crete, and the same distance to Tænarus in Laconia.806 From the extremities of Iapygia to the bottom of the Gulf of Corinth the distance is less than 3000 stadia, while from Iapygia to Libya it is more than 4000. In this sea are the Islands of Corcyra807 and Sybota,808 opposite the coasts of Epirus; and beyond these, opposite the Gulf of Corinth, Cephallenia,809 Ithaca, Zacynth,810 and the Echinades.811

21. Next to the Sea of Sicily, are the Cretan, Saronic,812 and Myrtoan Seas, comprised between Crete, Argia,813 and Attica.814 Their greatest breadth, measured from Attica, is 1200 stadia, and their length not quite double the distance. Within are included the Islands of Cythera,815 Calauria,816 Ægina,817 Salamis,818 and certain of the Cyclades.819 Adjacent to these are the Ægæan Sea,820 the Gulf of Melas,821 the Hellespont,822 the Icarian and Carpathian Seas,823 as far as Rhodes, Crete, Cnidus, and the commencement of Asia. [In these seas] are the Cyclades, the Sporades, and the islands opposite Caria, Ionia, and Æolia, as far as the Troad, namely, Cos,824 Samos,825 Chios,826 Lesbos,827 and Tenedos;828 likewise on the Grecian side as far as Macedonia and the borders of Thrace, Eubœa,829 Scyros,830 Peparethus,831 Lemnos,832 Thasos,833 Imbros,834 Samothracia,835 and numerous others, of which it is our intention to speak in detail. The length of this sea is about 4000 stadia, or rather [Pg 188] more,836 its breadth about 2000.837 It is surrounded by the coast of Asia above mentioned, and by those of Greece from Sunium838 northwards to the Thermaic Gulf839 and the Gulfs of Macedonia,840 and as far as the Thracian Chersonesus.841

22. Here too is the strait, seven stadia in length, which is between Sestos842 and Abydos,843 and through which the Ægæan and Hellespont communicate with another sea to the north, named the Propontis,844 and this again with another called the Euxine. This latter is, so to speak, a double sea, for towards its middle are two projecting promontories, one to the north, on the side of Europe, and the other opposite from the coast of Asia, which leave only a narrow passage between them, and thus form two great seas. The European promontory is named Criu-metopon;845 that of Asia, Carambis.846 They are distant from each other about 2500 stadia.847 The length of the western portion of this sea848 from Byzantium to the outlets of the Dnieper is 3800 stadia, its breadth 2000. Here is situated the Island of Leuca.849 The eastern portion is oblong and terminates in the narrow recess in which Dioscurias is situated. In length it is 5000 stadia, or rather more, and in breadth about 3000. The entire circumference of the Euxine is about 25,000 stadia. Some have compared the shape of its circumference to a Scythian bow when bent, the string representing the southern portions of the Euxine, (viz. the coast, from its mouth to the recess in which Dioscurias is situated; for, with the exception of Carambis, the sinuosities of the shore are but trifling, so that it [Pg 189] may be justly compared to a straight line,) and the remainder [of the circumference representing] the wood of the bow with its double curve, the uppermost very much rounded, the lower more in a straight line. So this sea forms two gulfs, the western much more rounded than the other.

23. To the north of the eastern Gulf of the Pontus, is the Lake Mæotis, whose perimeter is 9000 stadia or rather more. It communicates with the Euxine by means of the Cimmerian Bosphorus,850 and the Euxine with the Propontis851 by the Thracian Bosphorus, for such is the name given to the Strait of Byzantium, which is four stadia in breadth. The length of the Propontis from the Troad to Byzantium is stated to be 1500 stadia. Its breadth is about the same. It is in this sea that the Island of the Cyziceni852 is situated, with the other islands around it.

24. Such and so great is the extent of the Ægæan Sea towards the north.853 Again, starting from Rhodes, the [Mediterranean] forms the seas of Egypt, Pamphylia, and Issus, extending in an easterly direction from Cilicia to Issus, a distance of 5000 stadia, along the coasts of Lycia, Pamphylia, and the whole of Cilicia. From thence Syria, Phœnicia, and Egypt surround the sea to the south and west as far as Alexandria. The Island of Cyprus is situated in the Gulfs of Issus and Pamphylia, close to the Sea of Egypt. The passage between Rhodes and Alexandria from north [to south] is about 4000 stadia;854 sailing round the coasts it is double this distance. Eratosthenes informs us that, although the above [Pg 190] is the distance according to some mariners, others avow distinctly that it amounts to 5000 stadia; while he himself, from observations of the shadows indicated by the gnomon, calculates it at 3750.

That part of the Mediterranean Sea which washes the coasts of Cilicia and Pamphylia together with the right side of the Euxine, the Propontis, and the sea-coast beyond this as far as Pamphylia, form a kind of extensive Chersonesus, the isthmus of which is also large, and reaches from the sea near Tarsus855 to the city of Amisus,856 and thence to the Themiscyran857 plain of the Amazons. In fact the whole region within this line as far as Caria and Ionia, and the nations dwelling on this side the Halys,858 is entirely surrounded by the Ægæan and the aforementioned parts of the Mediterranean and Euxine Seas.859 This is what we call Asia properly,860 although the whole continent bears the same name.

25. To speak shortly, the southernmost point of Our Sea is the recess of the Greater Syrtes;861 next to this Alexandria in Egypt, and the mouths of the Nile; while the most northerly is the mouth of the Dnieper, or if the Mæotis be considered to belong to the Euxine, (and it certainly does appear to form a part of it,) the mouth of the Don. The Strait at the Pillars is the most westerly point, and the most easterly is the said recess, in which Dioscurias862 is situated; and not, as Eratosthenes falsely states, the Gulf of Issus,863 which is under the same meridian as Amisus864 and Themiscyra, and, if you will have it so, Sidene as far as Pharnacia.865 Proceeding thence in an easterly direction to Dioscurias, the distance by sea is above 3000 stadia, as will be seen more plainly in my detailed account of those countries. Such then is the Mediterranean.

[Pg 191] 26. We must now describe the countries which surround it; and here we will begin from the same point, whence we commenced our description of the sea itself.

Entering the Strait at the Pillars, Libya, as far as the river Nile, is on the right hand, and to the left, on the other side of the Strait, is Europe, as far as the Don. Asia bounds both these continents. We will commence with Europe, both because its figure is more varied, and also because it is the quarter most favourable to the mental and social ennoblement of man, and produces a greater portion of comforts than the other continents.

Now the whole of Europe is habitable with the exception of a small part, which cannot be dwelt in, on account of the severity of the cold, and which borders on the Hamaxœci,866 who dwell by the Don, Mæotis, and Dnieper. The wintry and mountainous parts of the habitable earth would seem to afford by nature but a miserable means of existence; nevertheless, by good management, places scarcely inhabited by any but robbers, may be got into condition. Thus the Greeks, though dwelling amidst rocks and mountains, live in comfort, owing to their economy in government and the arts, and all the other appliances of life. Thus too the Romans, after subduing numerous nations who were leading a savage life, either induced by the rockiness of their countries, or want of ports, or severity of the cold, or for other reasons scarcely habitable, have taught the arts of commerce to many who were formerly in total ignorance, and spread civilization amongst the most savage. Where the climate is equable and mild, nature herself does much towards the production of these advantages. As in such favoured regions every thing inclines to peace, so those which are sterile generate bravery and a disposition to war. These two races receive mutual advantages from each other, the one aiding by their arms, the other by their husbandry, arts, and institutions. Harm must result to both when failing to act in concert, but the advantage will lie on the side of those accustomed to arms, except in instances where they are overpowered by multitudes. This continent is very much favoured in this respect, being interspersed [Pg 192] with plains and mountains, so that every where the foundations of husbandry, civilization, and hardihood lie side by side. The number of those who cultivate the arts of peace, is, however, the most numerous, which preponderance over the whole is mainly due to the influence of the government, first of the Greeks, and afterwards of the Macedonians and Romans.

Europe has thus within itself resources both for war [and peace]. It is amply supplied with warriors, and also with men fitted for the labours of agriculture, and the life of the towns. It is likewise distinguished for producing in perfection those fruits of the earth necessary to life, and all the useful metals. Perfumes and precious stones must be imported from abroad, but as far as the comfort of life is concerned, the want or the possession of these can make no difference. The country likewise abounds in cattle, while of wild beasts the number is but small. Such is the general nature of this continent.

27. We will now describe separately the various countries into which it is divided. The first of these on the west is Iberia, which resembles the hide of an ox [spread out]; the eastern portions, which correspond to the neck, adjoining the neighbouring country of Gaul. The two countries are divided on this side by the chain of mountains called the Pyrenees; on all its other sides it is surrounded by sea; on the south, as far as the Pillars, by Our Sea; and thence to the northern extremity of the Pyrenees by the Atlantic. The greatest length of this country is about 6000 stadia, its breadth 5000.867

28. East of this is Keltica, which extends as far as the Rhine. Its northern side is washed by the entire of the British Channel, for this island lies opposite and parallel to it throughout, extending as much as 5000 stadia in length. Its eastern side is bounded by the river Rhine, whose stream runs parallel with the Pyrenees; and its southern side commencing from the Rhine, [is bounded] partly by the Alps, and partly by Our Sea; where what is called the Galatic Gulf868 runs in, and on this are situated the far-famed cities of Marseilles and Narbonne. Right opposite to the Gulf on the other side of the land, lies another Gulf, called by the same name, Galatic,869 [Pg 193]looking towards the north and Britain. It is here that the breadth of Keltica is the narrowest, being contracted into an isthmus less than 3000 stadia, but more than 2000. Within this region there is a mountain ridge, named Mount Cemmenus,870 which runs nearly at right angles to the Pyrenees, and terminates in the central plains of Keltica.871 The Alps, which are a very lofty range of mountains, form a curved line, the convex side of which is turned towards the plains of Keltica, mentioned before, and Mount Cemmenus, and the concave towards Liguria872 and Italy.

The Alps are inhabited by numerous nations, but all Keltic with the exception of the Ligurians, and these, though of a different race, closely resemble them in their manner of life. They inhabit that portion of the Alps which is next the Apennines, and also a part of the Apennines themselves. This latter mountain ridge traverses the whole length of Italy from north to south, and terminates at the Strait of Sicily.

29. The first parts of Italy are the plains situated under the Alps, as far as the recess of the Adriatic and the neighbouring places.873 The parts beyond form a narrow and long slip, resembling a peninsula, traversed, as I have said, throughout its length by the Apennines; its length is 7000 stadia, but its breadth is very unequal. The seas which form the peninsula of Italy are, the Tyrrhenian, which commences from the Ligurian, the Ausonian, and the Adriatic.874

30. After Italy and Keltica, the remainder of Europe extends towards the east, and is divided into two by the Danube. This river flows from west to east, and discharges itself into the Euxine Sea, leaving on its left the entire of Germany commencing from the Rhine, as well as the whole of the Getæ, [Pg 194] the Tyrigetæ, the Bastarnæ, and the Sauromatæ, as far as the river Don, and the Lake Mæotis,875 on its right being the whole of Thrace and Illyria,876 and in fine the rest of Greece.

Fronting Europe lie the islands which we have mentioned. Without the Pillars, Gadeira,877 the Cassiterides,878 and the Britannic Isles. Within the Pillars are the Gymnesian Islands,879 the other little islands of the Phœnicians,880 the Marseillais, and the Ligurians; those fronting Italy as far as the islands of Æolus and Sicily, and the whole of those881 along Epirus and Greece, as far as Macedonia and the Thracian Chersonesus.

31. From the Don and the Mæotis882 commences [Asia] on this side the Taurus; beyond these is [Asia] beyond the Taurus. For since this continent is divided into two by the chain of the Taurus, which extends from the extremities of Pamphylia to the shores of the Eastern Sea,883 inhabited by the Indians and neighbouring Scythians, the Greeks naturally called that part of the continent situated north of these mountains [Asia] on this side the Taurus, and that on the south [Asia] beyond the Taurus. Consequently the parts adjacent to the Mæotis and Don are on this side the Taurus. The first of these is the territory between the Caspian Sea and the Euxine, bounded on one side884 by the Don, the Exterior Ocean,885 and the Sea of Hyrcania; on the other886 by the Isthmus where it is narrowest from the recess of the Euxine to the Caspian.

Secondly, but still on this side the Taurus, are the countries above the Sea of Hyrcania as far as the Indians and [Pg 195] Scythians, who dwell along the said sea887 and Mount Imaus. These countries are possessed on the one side by the Mæotæ,888 and the people dwelling between the Sea of Hyrcania and the Euxine as far as the Caucasus, the Iberians889 and Albanians,890 viz. the Sauromatians, Scythians,891 Achæans, Zygi, and Heniochi: on the other side beyond the Sea of Hyrcania,892 by the Scythians,893 Hyrcanians, Parthians, Bactrians, Sogdians, and the other nations of India farther towards the north. To the south, partly by the Sea of Hyrcania, and partly by the whole isthmus which separates this sea from the Euxine, is situated the greater part of Armenia, Colchis,894 the whole of Cappadocia895 as far as the Euxine, and the Tibaranic nations.896 Further [west] is the country designated on this side the Halys,897 containing on the side of the Euxine and Propontis the Paphlagonians, Bithynians, Mysians, and Phrygia on the Hellespont, which comprehends the Troad; and on the side of the Ægæan and adjacent seas Æolia, Ionia, Caria, and Lycia. Inland is the Phrygia which contains that portion of Gallo-Græcia styled Galatia, Phrygia Epictetus,898 the Lycaonians, and the Lydians.

32. Next these on this side the Taurus are the mountaineers of Paropamisus, and various tribes of Parthians, Medes, Armenians, Cilicians, with “the Lycaonians,”899 and Pisidians.900 [Pg 196] After these mountaineers come the people dwelling beyond the Taurus. First amongst these is India, a nation greater and more flourishing than any other; they extend as far as the Eastern Sea901 and the southern part of the Atlantic. In the most southerly part of this sea opposite to India is situated the island of Taprobana,902 which is not less than Britain. Beyond India to the west, and leaving the mountains [of the Taurus] on the right, is a vast region, miserably inhabited, on account of the sterility of its soil, by men of different races, who are absolutely in a savage state. They are named Arians, and extend from the mountains to Gedrosia and Carmania.903 Beyond these towards the sea are the Persians,904 the Susians,905 and the Babylonians,906 situated along the Persian Gulf, besides several smaller neighbouring states. On the side of the mountains and amidst the mountains are the Parthians, the Medes, the Armenians, and the nations adjoining these, together with Mesopotamia.907 Beyond Mesopotamia are the countries on this side the Euphrates; viz. the whole of Arabia Felix, bounded by the entire Arabian and Persian Gulfs, together with the country of the Scenitæ and Phylarchi, who are situated along the Euphrates and in Syria. Beyond the Arabian Gulf and as far as the Nile dwell the Ethiopians908 and Arabians,909 and next these the Egyptians, Syrians, and Cilicians,910 both those styled Trachiotæ and others besides, and last of all the Pamphylians.911

[Pg 197] 33. After Asia comes Libya, which adjoins Egypt and Ethiopia. The coast next us, from Alexandria almost to the Pillars, is in a straight line, with the exception of the Syrtes, the sinuosities of some moderately sized bays, and the projection of the promontories by which they are formed. The side next the ocean from Ethiopia up to a certain point is almost parallel to the former; but after this the southern portions become narrowed into a sharp peak, extending a little beyond the Pillars of Hercules, and giving to the country something the figure of a trapezium. Its appearance, both by the accounts of other writers, and also the description given to ourselves by Cnæus Piso, who was governor of this province, is that of a panther’s skin, being dotted over with habitations surrounded by parched and desert land: these habitations the Egyptians call Auases.912 This continent offers besides several other peculiarities, which may be said to divide it into three distinct portions. Most of the coast next us is very fertile, more especially about the Cyrenaic and the parts about Carthage, as far as Maurusia and the Pillars of Hercules.913 Next the ocean it is likewise tolerably fitted for the habitation of man; but not so the centre of the country, which produces silphium;914 this for the most part is barren, rugged, and sandy; and the same is the case with regard to the whole of Asia lying under the same right line which traverses Ethiopia, the Troglodytic,915 Arabia, and the part of Gedrosia occupied by the Ichthyophagi.916 The people inhabiting Libya are for the most part unknown to us, as it has rarely been entered, either by armies or adventurers. But few of its inhabitants from the farther parts come amongst us, and their accounts are both incomplete and not to be relied on. The sum of what they say is as follows. Those which are most southern are called Ethiopians.917 North of these the principal nations are [Pg 198] the Garamantes, the Pharusians, and the Nigritæ.918 Still farther north are the Gætuli. Close to the sea, and adjoining it next Egypt, and as far as the Cyrenaic, dwell the Marmaridæ.919 Above920 the Cyrenaic and the Syrtes921 are the Psylli and Nasamones,922 and certain of the Gætuli; and after them the Asbystæ923 and Byzacii,924 as far as Carthage. Carthage is vast. Adjoining it are the Numidæ;925 of these people the tribes best known to us are called the Masylies and the Masæsylii. The most westerly are the Maurusians.926 The whole land, from Carthage to the Pillars of Hercules, is fertile. Nevertheless it abounds in wild beasts no less than the interior; and it does not seem improbable that the cause why the name of Nomades,927 or Wanderers, was bestowed on certain of these people originated in their not being able anciently to devote themselves to husbandry on account of the wild beasts. At the present day, when they are well skilled in hunting, and are besides assisted by the Romans in their rage for the spectacle of fights with beasts, they are both masters of the beasts and of husbandry. This finishes what we have to say on the continents.

34. It now remains for us to speak of the climata.928 Of [Pg 199] these too we shall give but a general description, commencing with those lines which we have denominated elementary, namely, those which determine the greatest length and breadth of the [habitable earth], but especially its breadth.

To enter fully into this subject is the duty of astronomers. This has been done by Hipparchus, who has noted down (as he says) the differences of the heavenly appearances for every degree of that quarter of the globe in which our habitable earth is situated, namely, from the equator to the north pole.

What is beyond our habitable earth it is not however the business of the geographer to consider. Nor yet even in regard to the various parts of the habitable earth must too minute and numerous differences be noticed, since to the man of the world they are perplexing; it will suffice to give the most striking and simple of the statements of Hipparchus. Assuming, as he does himself after the assertion of Eratosthenes, that the circumference of the earth is 252,000 stadia, the differences of the [celestial] phenomena will not be great for each [degree] within the limits between which the habitable earth is contained. Supposing we cut the grand circle of the earth into 360 divisions, each of these divisions will consist of 700 stadia. This is the calculation adopted by [Hipparchus] to fix the distances, which [as we said] should be taken under the before-mentioned meridian of Meroe. He commences at the regions situated under the equator, and stopping from time to time at every 700 stadia along the whole length of the meridian above mentioned, proceeds to describe the celestial phenomena as they appear from each. But the equator is not the place for us to start from. For even if there be there a habitable region, as some suppose, it forms a habitable earth to itself, a narrow slip enclosed by the regions uninhabitable on account of the heat; and can be no part of our habitable earth. Now the geographer should attend to none but our own habitable earth, which is confined by certain boundaries; on the south by the parallel which passes over the Cinnamon Country;929 on the north by that which passes over Ierna.930 But keeping in mind the scheme of our geography, we have no occasion to mark all the places comprehended within this distance, nor yet all the celestial [Pg 200] phenomena. We must however commence, as Hipparchus does, with the southern regions.

35. He tells us that the people who dwell under the parallel of the Cinnamon Country, which he places at 3000 stadia south of Meroe,931 and 8800 [north] of the equator, live nearly at equal distances between the equator and the summer tropic which passes by Syene; for Syene is 5000 stadia [north] of Meroe. They are the first932 for whom the whole [constellation] of the Lesser Bear is comprised within the Artic Circle, and to whom it is always visible. For the bright and most southern star, at the tip of the tail, is here contained within the Arctic Circle, and appears to touch the horizon.

The Arabian Gulf lies eastward parallel to the said meridian. Its egress933 into the Exterior Ocean is [in the same latitude as] the Cinnamon Country, the place where anciently they used to hunt the elephants. The parallel of the Cinnamon Country on the one side934 passes a little south of Taprobana, or perhaps over its southern extremity; and on the other side935 over the most southern parts of Libya.936

36. At Meroe and Ptolemais937 in the Troglodytic the longest day consists of thirteen equinoctial hours. These cities are at nearly equal distances between the equator and Alexandria, the preponderance on the side of the equator being only 1800 stadia. The parallel of Meroe passes on one side938 over unknown countries, and on the other939 over the extremities of India.940 At Syene, and at Berenice, which is situated on the Arabian Gulf and in the Troglodytic, at the summer solstice the sun is vertical, and the longest day consists of thirteen equinoctial hours and a half, and the whole of the Greater Bear appears within the Arctic Circle, with the exception of his thighs, the tip of his tail, and one of the stars composing his body. The parallel of Syene traverses on one side941 the [Pg 201] portion of Gedrosia occupied by the Ichthyophagi, and India; and on the other side942 the countries situated south of Cyrene by rather less than 5000 stadia.

37. In all the countries situated between the tropic and the equatorial circle, the shadows fall [alternately] on either side, north and south. In those which are north of Syene and beyond the summer tropic the shadows at mid-day fall to the north. The former are called amphiscii, the latter heteroscii. There is also another method of determining what places are under the tropic, which we spoke of in our observations on the zones. The soil is sandy, arid, and produces nothing but silphium, while more to the south the land is well irrigated and fertile.

38. In the countries situated about 400 stadia south of the parallel of Alexandria and Cyrene, where the longest day consists of fourteen equinoctial hours, Arcturus passes the zenith, slightly declining towards the south. At Alexandria at the time of the equinox the proportion which the gnomon bears to the shadow is as five to seven.943 Thus they are south of Carthage 1300 stadia, that is, admitting that in Carthage at the time of the equinox the proportion which the gnomon bears to the shadow is as eleven to seven. This parallel on the one side944 passes by Cyrene and the regions 900 stadia south of Carthage as far as the midst of Maurusia;945 and on the other side946 through Egypt,947 Cœlosyria, Upper Syria, Babylonia, Susiana,948 Persia,949 Carmania,950 Upper Gedrosia,951 and India.

39. At Ptolemais in Phœnicia,952 and at Sidon953 and Tyre,954 the longest day consists of fourteen hours and a quarter. These cities are north of Alexandria by about 1600 stadia, and north of Carthage about 700. In the Peloponnesus, and about the middle of Rhodes, at Xanthus955 in Lycia, or a little to the south of this place, and at 400 stadia south of Syracuse,956 the longest day consists of fourteen and a half equinoctial hours. These places are distant from Alexandria 3640 stadia.... [Pg 202] This parallel, according to Eratosthenes, passes through Caria, Lycaonia, Cataonia, Media, the Caspian Gates, and India next the Caucasus.957

40. In the parts of the Troad next Alexandria958 in Amphipolis,959 Apollonia in Epirus,960 the countries just south of Rome and north of Neapolis, the longest day consists of fifteen hours. This parallel is distant from that of Alexandria in Egypt 7000 stadia to the north, above 28,800 stadia north of the equator, and 3400 stadia from the parallel of Rhodes; it is south of Byzantium, Nicæa,961 and Marseilles 1500 stadia. The parallel of Lysimachia962 is a little to the north, and according to Eratosthenes passes through Mysia,963 Paphlagonia, Sinope,964 Hyrcania,965 and Bactra.966

41. About Byzantium the longest day consists of fifteen and a quarter equinoctial hours; the proportion borne by the gnomon to the shadow at the summer solstice, is as 120 to 42, minus one-fifth. These places are distant967 from the middle of Rhodes about 4900 stadia, and 30,300 from the equator. Sailing into the Euxine and advancing 1400 stadia to the north, the longest day is found to consist of fifteen and a half equinoctial hours. These places are equi-distant between the pole and equatorial circle; the arctic circle is at their zenith, the star in the neck of Cassiopeia is within this circle, the star forming the right elbow of Perseus being a little more to the north.

42. In regions 3800 stadia north of Byzantium the longest day consists of sixteen equinoctial hours; the constellation Cassiopeia being brought within the arctic circle. These regions are situated around [the mouth of] the Dnieper and the southern parts of the Mæotis, at a distance from the equator of 34,100 stadia; and the northern part of the horizon during almost all the summer nights is illuminated by the light of the sun; a certain degree of light continuing from sunset to sunrise. For the summer tropic is distant from the [Pg 203] horizon only the half and the twelfth part of a sign968 [of the zodiac], and this therefore is the greatest distance of the sun below the horizon at midnight. With us when the sun is at this distance from the horizon before sunrise and after sunset, the atmosphere is enlightened to the east and west respectively. In the winter the sun when at the highest is nine cubits above the horizon.969 These places, according to Eratosthenes, are distant from Meroe rather more than 23,000 stadia,970 for he says that [from the parallel of Meroe] to the Hellespont971 there are 18,000 stadia, and thence to the Dnieper 5000 more. In regions distant 6300 stadia from Byzantium, and north of the Mæotis, the sun during the winter time is, when highest, six cubits [above the horizon]. The longest day consists of seventeen hours.

43. The countries beyond this which border upon the regions uninhabitable on account of their cold, have no interest to the geographer. He who desires to learn about them, and the celestial phenomena which Hipparchus has described, but which we pass over as being too much in detail for our present undertaking, must seek for them in that author. The statements of Posidonius concerning the periscii, the amphiscii, and the heteroscii are likewise too detailed. Still we must touch on these points sufficiently to explain his view, and to point out how far such matters are serviceable in geography, and how far not. The terms made use of refer to the shadows cast from the sun. The sun appears to the senses to describe a circle parallel to that of the earth.972 Of those people for whom each revolution of the earth produces a day and a night, the sun being carried first over, then under, the earth, some are denominated amphiscii, others heteroscii. The amphiscii are the inhabitants of countries in which when a gnomon is placed perpendicularly on a plane surface, the shadow which it casts at mid-day, falls first to one side then to the other, as the sun illumines first this side, then that. This however only occurs in places situated between the tropics. The heteroscii are those amongst whom the shadow always falls to the north, as with us; or to the [Pg 204] south, as amongst those who inhabit the other temperate zone. This occurs in all those regions where the arctic circle is less than the tropic. Where however it becomes the same as or greater than the tropic, this shows the commencement of the periscii, who extend thence to the pole. In regions where the sun remains above the horizon during an entire revolution of the earth, the shadow must evidently have turned in a complete circle round the gnomon. On this account he named them periscii. However they have nought to do with geography, inasmuch as the regions are not habitable on account of the cold, as we stated in our review of Pytheas. Nor is there any use in determining the size of this uninhabitable region, [it is enough to have established] that those countries, having the tropic for their arctic circle, are situated beneath the circle which is described by the pole of the zodiac973 in the [diurnal] revolution of the earth, and that the distance between the equator and the tropic equals four-sixtieths of the great circle [of the earth].

[Pg 205]




1. Having thus given a general view of Geography, it will now be proper to describe each separate country in detail, as we engaged to do. We fancy that the method which we have adopted in the division of our subject, up to this point, has been correct; and we now recommence with Europe and the various countries into which it is divided, on the same principles as formerly, and induced by the same reasons.

2. The first division of this continent towards the west is Iberia, as we before stated. The greater part of this country is but little fitted for habitation; consisting chiefly of mountains, woods, and plains covered with a light meagre soil, the irrigation of which is likewise uncertain. The part next the north, which borders on the ocean, is extremely cold, and besides its rugged character, has no communication or intercourse with other [countries], and thus to dwell there is attended with peculiar hardship. Such is the character of this portion; on the other hand, almost the whole of the south is fertile, especially what is beyond the Pillars [of Hercules]. This however will be shown more in detail, but we must first describe the figure and extent [of the country].

3. In shape it resembles a hide stretched out in length from west to east, the forepart974 towards the east, its breadth being from north to south. Its length is about 6000 stadia; the greatest breadth is 5000; while there are parts considerably less [Pg 206]
CAS. 137
than 3000, particularly in the vicinity of the Pyrenees, which form the eastern side. This chain of mountains stretches without interruption from north to south,975 and divides Keltica976 from Iberia. The breadth both of Keltica and Iberia is irregular, the narrowest part in both of them from the Mediterranean to the [Atlantic] Ocean being near the Pyrenees, particularly on either side of that chain; this gives rise to gulfs both on the side of the Ocean, and also of the Mediterranean; the largest of these are denominated the Keltic or Galatic Gulfs,977 and they render the [Keltic] Isthmus narrower than that of Iberia.978 The Pyrenees form the eastern side of Iberia, and the Mediterranean the southern from the Pyrenees to the Pillars of Hercules, thence the exterior [ocean]979 as far as the Sacred Promontory.980 The third or western side runs nearly parallel to the Pyrenees from the Sacred Promontory to the promontory of the Artabri, called [Cape] Nerium.981 The fourth side extends hence to the northern extremity of the Pyrenees.

*Note. The pages of Casaubon’s edition of 1620 are given to facilitate reference to various editions and translations of Strabo.

4. We will now commence our detailed account, beginning from the Sacred Promontory. This is the most western point not only of Europe, but of the whole habitable earth. For the habitable earth is bounded to the west by two continents, namely, the extremities of Europe and Libya, 982 which are inhabited respectively by the Iberians and the Maurusians.983 But the Iberian extremity, at the promontory984 we have mentioned, juts out beyond the other as much as 1500 stadia.985 The region adjacent to this cape they call in the Latin tongue Cuneum, [Pg 207] 986 which signifies a wedge. The promontory which projects into the sea, Artemidorus (who states that he has himself been at the place) compares to a ship; three little islands, [he says,] each having a small harbour, contribute to give it this form; the former island resembling the beak of the ship, and the two latter the beams on each side of the ship’s bows. [He adds] that there is no temple of Hercules shown there, as Ephorus falsely states, nor yet any altar [to him] nor to any other divinity; but in many parts there are three or four stones placed together, which are turned by all travellers who arrive there, in accordance with a certain local custom, and are changed in position by such as turn them incorrectly.987 It is not lawful to offer sacrifice there, nor yet to approach the place during the night, for it is said that then the gods take up their abode at the place. Those who go thither to view it stay at a neighbouring village over-night, and proceed to the place on the morrow, carrying water with them, as there is none to be procured there.

5. It is quite possible that these things are so, and we ought not to disbelieve them. Not so however with regard to the other common and vulgar reports; for Posidonius tells us the common people say that in the countries next the ocean the sun appears larger as he sets, and makes a noise resembling the sound of hot metal in cold water, as though the sea were hissing as the sun was submerged in its depths. The statement [of Artemidorus] is also false, that night follows immediately on the setting of the sun: it does not follow immediately, although certainly the interval is short, as in other great seas. For when he sets behind mountains the agency of the false light continues the day for a long period; over the sea the twilight is shorter, still darkness does not immediately supervene. The same thing may be remarked in large plains. The image of the sun is enlarged on the seas at its rising as well as at its setting, because at these times a larger mass of [Pg 208]
[CAS. 138]
exhalations rises from the humid element; and the eye looking through these exhalations, sees images refracted into larger forms, as observed through tubes. The same thing happens when the setting sun or moon is seen through a dry and thin cloud, when those bodies likewise appear reddish.988 Posidonius tells us that, having himself passed thirty days at Gades,989 during which time he carefully observed the setting of the sun, he is convinced of the falsity of Artemidorus’s account. This latter writer tells us, that at the time of its setting the sun appears a hundred times larger than its ordinary size, and that night immediately succeeds. If we attend to his account, we cannot believe that he himself remarked this phenomenon at the Sacred Promontory,990 for he tells us that no one can approach during the night; therefore they cannot approach at sunset, since night immediately supervenes thereupon. Neither did he observe it from any other part of the coast washed by the ocean, for Gades is upon the ocean, and both Posidonius and many others testify that there such is not the case.

6. The sea-coast next the Sacred Promontory forms on one side the commencement of the western coast of Spain as far as the outlet of the river Tagus; and on the other forms the southern coast as far as the outlet of another river, named the Guadiana.991 Both of these rivers descend from the eastern parts [of Spain]; but the former, which is much larger than the other, pursues a straight course towards the west, while the Guadiana bends its course towards the south.992 They enclose an extent of country peopled for the most part by Kelts and [Pg 209] certain Lusitanians,993 whom the Romans caused to settle here from the opposite side of the Tagus. Higher up, the country is inhabited by the Carpetani,994 the Oretani,995 and a large number of Vettones.996 This district is moderately fertile, but that which is beyond it to the east and south, does not give place in superiority to any part of the habitable earth with which it may be compared, in the excellence of its productions both of land and sea. This is the country through which the river Guadalquiver997 flows. This river takes its rise from the same parts as the Guadiana998 and the Tagus, and is between these two in size.999 Like the Guadiana, the commencement of its course flows towards the west, but it afterwards turns to the south, and discharges itself at the same side of the coast as that river.

From this river(998) the country has received the name of Bætica; it is called Turdetania by the inhabitants, who are themselves denominated Turdetani, and Turduli. Some think these two names refer to one nation, while others believe that they designate two distinct people. Of this latter opinion is Polybius, who imagines that the Turduli dwell more to the north than the Turdetani. At the present day however there does not appear to be any distinction between them. These people are esteemed to be the most intelligent of all the Iberians; they have an alphabet, and possess ancient writings, poems, and metrical laws six thousand years old, as they say. The other Iberians are likewise furnished with an alphabet, although not of the same form, nor do they speak the same language. Their country,1000 which is on this side the [Pg 210]
[CAS. 139]
Guadiana, extends eastward as far as Oretania,1001 and southward along the sea-coast from the outlets of the Guadiana to the Pillars [of Hercules]. But it is necessary that I should enter into further particulars concerning this and the neighbouring places, in order to illustrate their excellence and fertility.

7. Between this coast, where the Guadalquiver and Guadiana discharge themselves, and the extremities of Maurusia, the Atlantic Ocean forms the strait at the Pillars [of Hercules] by which it is connected with the Mediterranean. Here is situated Calpe,1002 the mountain of the Iberians who are denominated Bastetani, by others Bastuli. Its circumference is not large, but it is so high and steep as to resemble an island in the distance. Sailing from the Mediterranean into the Atlantic, it is left on the right hand. At a distance of 40 stadia from this [mountain] is the considerable and ancient city of Carteia, formerly a marine arsenal of the Iberians. Some assert that it was founded by Hercules; of this number is Timosthenes,1003 who tells us it was anciently called Heraclæa, and that vast walls and ship-sheds are still shown.

8. Next to these is Mellaria,1004 where they make salted provisions. After this the city and river1005 of Belo. Here the merchandise and salted provisions for Tingis in Maurusia are principally shipped. There was a city named Zelis1006 near to Tingis, but the Romans transferred it to the opposite coast [of Spain], and having placed there in addition some of the inhabitants of Tingis, and sent over also some of their own people, they then gave to the city the name of Julia Joza.1007 Beyond this is Gadeira,1008 an island separated from Turdetania by a narrow strait, and distant from Calpe about 750 stadia, or, as others say, 800. This island has nothing to distinguish it above others, but owing to the boldness of its people in [Pg 211] their expeditions by sea, and their friendship with the Romans, has attained to that pitch of good fortune, that although situated at the farthest extremities of the earth, it possesses a greater celebrity than any other island. But we will describe it when we come to speak of the other islands.

9. Next after [Cadiz] is the port of Menestheus,1009 and the estuary near to Asta and Nebrissa.1010 These estuaries are valleys filled by the sea during its flood-tides, up which you may sail into the interior, and to the cities built on them, in the same way as you sail up a river. Immediately after are the two outlets of the Guadalquiver.1011 The island embraced by these mouths has a coast of a hundred stadia, or rather more according to others. Hereabouts is the Oracle of Menestheus,1012 and the tower of Cæpio,1013 built upon a rock and washed on all sides by the sea. This is an admirable work, resembling the Pharos, and constructed for the safety of vessels. For the mud carried out by the river forms shallows, and sunken rocks are also scattered before it, so that a beacon was greatly needed. Thence sailing up the river is the city of Ebura,1014 and the temple of Phosphorus,1015 which they call Lux Dubia.1016 You then pass up the other estuaries; and after these the river Guadiana, which has also two mouths,1017 up either of which you may sail. Lastly, beyond is the Sacred Promontory,1018 distant from Gadeira1019 less than 2000 stadia. Some say that from the Sacred Promontory to the mouth of the Guadiana there are 60 miles; thence to the mouth of the Guadalquiver 100; and from this latter place to Gadeira 70.

[Pg 212]
CAS. 141


1. Turdetania lies above the coast on this side the Guadiana,1020 and is intersected by the river Guadalquiver.1021 It is bounded on the west and north by the river Guadiana; on the east by certain of the Carpetani and the Oretani; on the south by those of the Bastetani who inhabit the narrow slip of coast between Calpe and Gadeira, and by the sea beyond as far as the Guadiana. The Bastetani whom I have mentioned, together with the people on the other side the Guadiana, and many of the places adjacent, belong to Turdetania. The size of this country in its length and breadth does not exceed two thousand stadia, still it contains a vast number of towns; two hundred, it is said. Those best known are situated on the rivers, estuaries, and sea; but the two which have acquired the greatest name and importance are, Corduba, founded by Marcellus,1022 and the city of the Gaditanians.1023 The latter for its naval importance, and its alliance with the Romans; and the former on account of its fertility and extent, a considerable portion of the Guadalquiver flowing by it; in addition to this it has been from its commencement inhabited by picked men, whether natives or Romans; and it was the first colony planted by the Romans in these parts.

After this city and that of the Gaditanians, Hispalis1024 is the most noted. This also is a Roman colony. Commerce is still [Pg 213] carried on here, although at the present moment the city of Bætis1025 though not so finely built, is outshining it, on account of the honour it has received from the soldiers of Cæsar taking up their quarters there.

2. After these are Italica,1026 and Ilipa,1027 situated on the Guadalquiver; farther on are Astygis,1028 Carmo,1029 and Obulco; and besides these Munda,1030 Ategua, Urso,1031 Tukkis,1032 Julia,1033 and Ægua, where the sons of Pompey were defeated. None of these places are far from Corduba. Munda is in some sort regarded as the metropolis of the whole district. This place is distant from Carteia 14001034 stadia, and it was here that Cnæus fled after his defeat, and sailing thence landed on a rocky height overlooking the sea, where he was murdered. His brother Sextus, having escaped from Corduba, after carrying on the war for a short time in Spain, caused a revolt in Sicily. Flying thence into Asia he was seized at Miletus1035 by the generals1036 of Antony, and executed. Amongst the Kelts the most famous place is Conistorgis.1037 Upon the estuaries is Asta,1038 in which the Gaditani mostly hold their assemblies; it is opposite the sea-port of the island, at a distance of not more than 100 stadia.

3. A vast number of people dwell along the Guadalquiver; and you may sail up it almost 1200 stadia from the sea to Corduba, and the places a little higher up. The banks and little islets of this river are cultivated with the greatest diligence. [Pg 214]
[CAS. 142]
The eye is also delighted with groves and gardens, which in this district are met with in the highest perfection. As far as Ispalis, which is a distance of not less than 500 stadia, the river is navigable for ships1039 of considerable size; but for the cities higher up, as far as Ilipas, smaller vessels are employed, and thence to Corduba river-boats. These are now constructed of planks joined together, but they were formerly made out of a single trunk. Above this to Castlon the river is no longer navigable. A chain of mountains, rich in metal, runs parallel to the Guadalquiver,1040 approaching the river sometimes more, sometimes less, towards the north.

There is much silver found in the parts about Ilipas and Sisapo, both in that which is called the old town and the new. There are copper and gold about the Cotinæ.1041 These mountains are on the left as you sail up the river; on the right there is a vast and elevated plain, fertile, full of large trees, and containing excellent pasturage. The Guadiana1042 is likewise navigable, but not for vessels equally large, nor yet so far up. It is also bordered by mountains containing metal, and extends as far as the Tagus. Districts which contain metals must, of necessity, be rugged and poor,1043 as indeed are those adjoining Carpetania, and still more those next the Keltiberians. The same is the case with Bæturia, the plains of which, bordering on the Guadiana, are arid.

4. Turdetania, on the other hand, is marvellously fertile, and abounds in every species of produce. The value of its productions is doubled by means of exportation, the surplus products finding a ready sale amongst the numerous ship-owners. This results from its rivers and estuaries, which, as we have said, resemble rivers, and by which you may sail from the sea to the inland towns, not only in small, but even in large-sized skiffs. For the whole country above the coast, and situated between the Sacred Promontory1044 and the Pillars, consists of an extended plain. Here in many places are hollows running inland from the sea, which resemble moderately-sized ravines or the beds of rivers, and extend [Pg 215] for many stadia. These are filled by the approach of the sea at high tide, and may be navigated as easily, or even more so than rivers. They are navigated much the same as rivers; the sea, meeting with no obstacle, enters like the flow of a river at flood-tide. The sea comes in here with greater force than in the other places; for being forced from the wide ocean into the narrow strait,1045 formed by the coast of Maurusia and Iberia, it experiences recoils, and thus is borne full into the retiring parts of the land. Some of these shallows are left dry as the tide ebbs, while others are never destitute of water; others again contain islands, of this kind are the estuaries between the Sacred Promontory1046 and the Pillars, where the tide comes in with more violence than at other places. Such a tide is of considerable advantage to sailors, since it makes the estuaries both fuller and more spacious, frequently swelling them to a breadth of eight1047 stadia, so that the whole land, so to speak, is rendered navigable, thus giving wonderful facility both for the export and import of merchandise. Nevertheless there is some inconvenience. For in the navigation of the rivers, the sailors run considerable danger both in ascending and descending, owing to the violence with which the flood-tide encounters the current of the stream as it flows down. The ebb-tides are likewise the cause of much damage in these estuaries, for resulting as they do from the same cause as the flood-tides, they are frequently so rapid as to leave the vessel on dry land; and herds in passing over to the islands that are in these estuaries are sometimes drowned [in the passage] and sometimes surprised in the islands, and endeavouring to cross back again to the continent, are unable, and perish in the attempt. They say that certain of the cattle, having narrowly observed what takes place, wait till the sea has retired, and then cross over to the mainland.

5. The men [of the country], being well acquainted with the nature of these places, and that the estuaries would very well answer the same purpose as rivers, founded cities and other settlements along them the same as along rivers. Of this number are Asta, Nebrissa,1048 Onoba,1049 Ossonoba, Mænoba, [Pg 216]
[CAS. 143]
besides many others. The canals which have been cut in various directions are also found useful in the traffic which is carried on between place and place, both amongst the people themselves and with foreigners. The conflux of water at the flood-tides is also valuable, as rendering navigable the isthmuses which separate the different pieces of water, thus making it possible to ferry over from the rivers into the estuaries, and from the estuaries into the rivers. Their trade is wholly carried on with Italy and Rome. The navigation is excellent as far as the Pillars, (excepting perhaps some little difficulties at the Strait,) and equally so on the Mediterranean, where the voyages are very calm, especially to those who keep the high seas. This is a great advantage to merchant-vessels. The winds on the high seas blow regularly; and peace reigns there now, the pirates having been put down, so that in every respect the voyage is facile. Posidonius tells us he observed the singular phenomenon in his journey from Iberia,1050 that in this sea, as far as the Gulf of Sardinia, the south-east1051 winds blow periodically. And on this account he strove in vain for three whole months to reach Italy, being driven about by the winds against the Gymnesian islands,1052 Sardinia, and the opposite coasts of Libya.

6. Large quantities of corn and wine are exported from Turdetania, besides much oil, which is of the first quality;1053 also wax, honey, pitch, large quantities of the kermes-berry,1054 and vermilion not inferior to that of Sinope.1055 The country furnishes the timber for their ship-building. They have likewise mineral salt, and not a few salt streams. A considerable quantity of salted fish is exported, not only from hence, but also from the remainder of the coast beyond the Pillars, equal to that of Pontus. Formerly they exported large quantities of garments, but they now send the [unmanufactured] wool, which is superior even to that of [Pg 217] the Coraxi,1056 and remarkable for its beauty. Rams for the purpose of covering fetch a talent. The stuffs manufactured by the Saltiatæ1057 are of incomparable texture. There is a super-abundance of cattle, and a great variety of game: while, on the other hand, of destructive animals there are scarcely any, with the exception of certain little hares which burrow in the ground, and are called by some leberides.1058 These creatures destroy both seeds and trees by gnawing their roots. They are met with throughout almost the whole of Iberia,1059 and extend to Marseilles, infesting likewise the islands. It is said that formerly the inhabitants of the Gymnesian islands1060 sent a deputation to the Romans soliciting that a new land might be given them, as they were quite driven out of their country by these animals, being no longer able to stand against their vast multitudes.1061 It is possible that people should be obliged to have recourse to such an expedient for help in waging war in so great an extremity, which however but seldom happens, and is a plague produced by some pestilential state of the atmosphere, which at other times has produced serpents and rats in like abundance; but for the ordinary increase of these little hares, many ways of hunting have been devised, amongst others by wild cats from Africa,1062 trained for the purpose. Having muzzled these, they turn them into the holes, when they either drag out the animals they find there with their claws, or compel them to fly to the surface of the earth, where they are taken by people standing by for that purpose. The large amount of the exports from Turdetania is evinced by the size and number of their ships. Merchant-vessels of the greatest size sail thence to Dicæarchia1063 and [Pg 218]
[CAS. 145]
Ostia, a Roman port; they are in number nearly equal to those which arrive from Libya.

7. Such is the wealth of the inland part of Turdetania, and its maritime portions are found fully to equal it in the richness of their sea-productions. In fact, oysters and every variety of shell-fish, remarkable both for their number and size, are found along the whole of the exterior sea, but here in particular. It is probable that the flow and ebb tides, which are particularly strong here, contribute both to their quantity and size, on account of the great number of pools and standing waters which they form.1064 The same is the case with regard to all kinds of cetacea, narwhals, whales, and physeteri,1065 which when they blow [up the water from their snouts] appear to observers from a distance to resemble a cloud shaped like a column. The congers are quite monstrous, far surpassing in size those of our [sea];1066 so are the lampreys, and many other fish of the same kind. It is said that in Carteia there are kerukæ1067 and cuttle-fish which would contain as much as ten cotylæ.1068 In the parts more exterior there are lampreys and congers weighing 80 minæ,1069 and polypes a talent,1070 also teuthidæ1071 two cubits in length, with other fish in proportion. Shoals of rich fat thunny are driven hither from the sea-coast beyond. They feed on the fruit of a species of stunted oak, which grows at the bottom of the sea, and produces very large acorns. The same oaks grow in large numbers throughout the land of Iberia, their roots are of the same size as those of the full-grown oak, although the tree itself never attains the height of a low shrub. So great is the quantity of fruit which it produces, that at the season when they are ripe, the whole coast on either side of the Pillars is covered with acorns which have been thrown up by the tides: the quantity however [Pg 219] is always less on this side the Pillars [than on the other]. Polybius states that these acorns are ejected [by the sea] as far as [the shores of] Latium, unless, he adds, Sardo1072 and the neighbouring districts also produce them. The thunny-fish become gradually thinner, owing to the failure of their food, as they approach the Pillars from the outer sea. This fish, in fact, may be regarded as a kind of sea-hog, being fond of the acorn, and growing marvellously fat upon it; and whenever acorns are abundant, thunny-fish are abundant likewise.

8. Of the various riches of the aforenamed country,1073 not the least is its wealth in metals: this every one will particularly esteem and admire. Of metals, in fact, the whole country of the Iberians is full, although it is not equally fertile and flourishing throughout, especially in those parts where the metals most abound. It is seldom that any place is blessed with both these advantages, and likewise seldom that the different kinds of metals abound in one small territory. Turdetania, however, and the surrounding districts surpass so entirely in this respect, that however you may wish, words cannot convey their excellence. Gold, silver, copper, and iron, equal in amount and of similar quality, not having been hitherto discovered in any other part of the world.1074 Gold is not only dug from the mines, but likewise collected; sand containing gold being washed down by the rivers and torrents. It is frequently met with in arid districts, but here the gold is not visible to the sight, whereas in those which are overflowed the grains of gold are seen glittering. On this account they cause water to flow over the arid places in order to make the grains shine; they also dig pits, and make use of other contrivances for washing the sand, and separating the gold from it; so that at the present day more gold is procured by washing than by digging it from the mines. The Galatæ affirm that the mines along the Kemmenus mountains1075 and their side of the Pyrenees are superior; but most people prefer those on this side. They say that sometimes amongst the [Pg 220]
[CAS. 146]
grains of gold lumps have been found weighing half a pound, these they call palæ; they need but little refining.1076 They also say that in splitting open stones they find small lumps, resembling paps. And that when they have melted the gold, and purified it by means of a kind of aluminous earth, the residue left is electrum. This, which contains a mixture of silver and gold, being again subjected to the fire, the silver is separated and the gold left [pure]; for this metal is easily dissipated and fat,1077 and on this account gold is most easily melted by straw, the flame of which is soft, and bearing a similarity [to the gold], causes it easily to dissolve: whereas coal, besides wasting a great deal, melts it too much by reason of its vehemence, and carries it off [in vapour]. In the beds of the rivers the sand is either collected and washed in boats close by, or else a pit is dug to which the earth is carried and there washed. The furnaces for silver are constructed lofty, in order that the vapour, which is dense and pestilent, may be raised and carried off. Certain of the copper mines are called gold mines, which would seem to show that formerly gold was dug from them.

9. Posidonius, in praising the amount and excellence of the metals, cannot refrain from his accustomed rhetoric, and becomes quite enthusiastic in exaggeration. He tells us we are not to disbelieve the fable, that formerly the forests having been set on fire, the earth, which was loaded with silver and gold, melted, and threw up these metals to the surface, forasmuch as every mountain and wooded hill seemed to be heaped up with money by a lavish fortune. Altogether (he remarks) any one seeing these places, could only describe them as the inexhaustible treasuries of nature, or the unfailing exchequer of some potentate; for not only, he tells us, is this land rich itself, but riches abound beneath it. So that amongst these people the subterraneous regions should not be regarded as the realms of Pluto, but of Plutus. Such is the flourished style in which he speaks on this subject, that you would fancy [Pg 221] his turgid language had been dug from a mine itself. Discoursing on the diligence of the miners, he applies to them the remark [of Demetrius] of Phalaris, who, speaking of the silver mines of Attica, said that the men there dug with as much energy as if they thought they could grub up Plutus himself. He compares with these the activity and diligence of the Turdetani, who are in the habit of cutting tortuous and deep tunnels, and draining the streams which they frequently encounter by means of Egyptian screws.1078 As for the rest,1079 they are quite different from the Attic miners, whose mining (he remarks) may be justly compared to that enigma,1080 What I have taken up I have not kept, and what I have got I have thrown away. Whereas the Turdetanians make a good profit, since a fourth part of the ore which they extract from the copper mines is [pure] copper, while from the silver mines one person has taken as much as a Eubœan talent. He says that tin is not found upon the surface, as authors commonly relate, but that it is dug up; and that it is produced both in places among the barbarians who dwell beyond the Lusitanians and in the islands Cassiterides; and that from the Britannic Islands it is carried to Marseilles. Amongst the Artabri,1081 who are the last of the Lusitanians towards the north and west, he tells us that the earth is powdered with silver, tin, and white gold, that is, mixed with silver, the earth having been brought down by the rivers: this the women scrape up with spades, and wash in sieves, woven after the fashion of baskets. Such is the [Pg 222]
[CAS. 147]
substance of what [Posidonius] tells us concerning the mines [of Iberia].

10. Polybius, speaking of the silver mines of New Carthage,1082 tells us that they are extremely large, distant from the city about 20 stadia, and occupy a circuit of 400 stadia, that there are 40,000 men regularly engaged in them, and that they yield daily to the Roman people [a revenue of] 25,000 drachmæ. The rest of the process I pass over, as it is too long, but as for the silver ore collected, he tells us that it is broken up, and sifted through sieves over water; that what remains is to be again broken, and the water having been strained off, it is to be sifted and broken a third time. The dregs which remain after the fifth time are to be melted, and the lead being poured off, the silver is obtained pure. These silver mines still exist; however they are no longer the property of the state, neither these nor those elsewhere, but are possessed by private individuals. The gold mines, on the contrary, nearly all belong to the state. Both at Castlon1083 and other places there are singular lead mines worked. They contain a small proportion of silver, but not sufficient to pay for the expense of refining.

11. Not far from Castlon is the mountain in which they report that the [river] Guadalquiver1084 takes its rise. They call it silver mountain on account of the silver mines which it contains.1085 Polybius asserts that both the Guadiana1086 and this river have their sources in Keltiberia, notwithstanding they are separated from each other by a distance of 900 stadia;1087 [this we are to attribute to] the Keltiberians having increased in power, and having consequently conferred their name on the surrounding country. It appears the ancients knew the Guadalquiver under the name of the Tartessus, and Gades1088 with the neighbouring islands under that of Erythia; and it is thought that we should understand in this sense the words of Stesichorus1089 concerning the pastoral poet Geryon, that he was born “almost [Pg 223] opposite to the renowned Erythia, in a rocky cave near to the abundant springs of the silver-bedded river Tartessus.” They say that on the piece of land enclosed between the two outlets of this river there formerly stood a city named, like the river, Tartessus, and that the district was called Tartessis, which the Turduli now inhabit. Eratosthenes likewise tells us that the [country] near to Calpe1090 was called Tartessis, and also Erythia the Fortunate Island. This Artemidorus contradicts, and says that it is as false as his other statements, that the Sacred Promontory1091 is distant from Gades1092 five days’ sail, when in fact they are [distant from each other] not more than 1700 stadia.1093 Likewise that the tide ceased at this point, whereas it passes round the whole circuit of the habitable earth. That it is easier to pass from the northern parts of Iberia into Keltica,1094 than to proceed thither by sea; with many other things which he asserted on the faith of that charlatan Pytheas.

12. Our poet [Homer] being very explicit, and possessing great experience, gives one cause to believe that he was not unfamiliar with these localities. Of this any one may be convinced who will examine carefully what has been written on these points, both the incorrect [comments], and likewise those which are better and more truthful. One amongst these incorrect ideas is, that he considered [Tartessis] to be the farthest country towards the west, where, as he himself expresses it,

The radiant sun in ocean sank,
Drawing night after him o’er all the earth.1095

Now, since it is evident that night is ominous, and near to Hades, and Hades to Tartarus, it seems probable that [Homer], having heard of Tartessus, took thence the name of Tartarus to distinguish the farthest of the places beneath the earth, also embellishing it with fable in virtue of the poetic licence. In the same way, knowing that the Cimmerians dwelt in northern and dismal territories near to the Bosphorus, he located them [Pg 224]
[CAS. 149]
in the vicinity of Hades; perhaps also on account of the common hatred of the Ionians against this people. For they say that in the time of Homer, or a little before, the Cimmerians made an incursion as far as Æolia and Ionia. Always drawing his fables from certain real facts, his Planetæ1096 are modelled on the Cyaneæ. He describes them as dangerous rocks, as they tell us the Cyaneæan rocks are, [and] on which account [in fact] they are called Symplegades.1097 He adds to this [the account of] Jason’s navigating through the midst of them. The Straits of the Pillars1098 and Sicily,1099 likewise, suggested to him the fable of the Planetæ. Thus, even according to the worst comments, from the fiction of Tartarus any one might gather that Homer was acquainted with the regions about Tartessus.

13. Of these facts, notwithstanding, there are better proofs. For instance, the expeditions of Hercules and the Phœnicians to this country were evidence to him of the wealth and luxury of the people. They fell so entirely under the dominion of the Phœnicians, that at the present day almost the whole of the cities of Turdetania and the neighbouring places are inhabited by them. It also seems to me that the expedition of Ulysses hither, as it took place and was recorded, was the foundation both of his Odyssey and Iliad, which he framed upon facts collected into a poem, and embellished as usual with poetical mythology. It is not only in Italy, Sicily, and a few other places that vestiges of these [events] occur; even in Iberia a city is shown named Ulyssea,1100 also a temple of Minerva, and a myriad other traces both of the wandering of Ulysses and also of other survivors of the Trojan war, which was equally fatal to the vanquished and those who took Troy. These latter in fact gained a Cadmean victory,1101 for their homes were destroyed, and the portion of booty which fell to each was exceedingly minute. Consequently not only those who had survived the perils [of their country], but the Greeks as well, betook themselves to piracy, the former because they [Pg 225] had been pillaged of every thing; the latter, on account of the shame which each one anticipated to himself:

“The shame
That must attend us, after absence long
Returning unsuccessful, who can bear?”1102

In the same way is related the wandering of Æneas, of Antenor, and of the Heneti; likewise of Diomedes, of Menelaus, of Ulysses,1103 and of many others. Hence the poet, knowing of similar expeditions to the extremities of Iberia, and having heard of its wealth and other excellencies, (which the Phœnicians had made known,) feigned this to be the region of the Blessed, and the Plain of Elysium, where Proteus informs Menelaus that he is to depart to:

“But far hence the gods
Will send thee to Elysium, and the earth’s
Extremest bounds; there Rhadamanthus dwells,
The golden-haired, and there the human kind
Enjoy the easiest life; no snow is there,
No biting winter, and no drenching shower,
But zephyr always gently from the sea
Breathes on them to refresh the happy race.”1104

Now the purity of the air, and the gentle breathing of the zephyr, are both applicable to this country, as well as the softness of the climate, its position in the west, and its place at the extremities of the earth, where, as we have said, he feigned that Hades was. By coupling Rhadamanthus with it, he signifies that the place was near to Minos, of whom he says,

“There saw I Minos, offspring famed of Jove;
His golden sceptre in his hand, he sat
Judge of the dead.”1105

Similar to these are the fables related by later poets; such, for instance, as the expeditions after the oxen of Geryon, and the [Pg 226]
[CAS. 150]
golden apples of the Hesperides, the Islands of the Blessed1106 they speak of, which we know are still pointed out to us not far distant from the extremities of Maurusia, and opposite to Gades.

14. I repeat that the Phœnicians were the discoverers [of these countries], for they possessed the better part of Iberia and Libya before the time of Homer, and continued masters of those places until their empire was overthrown by the Romans. This also is an evidence of the wealth of Iberia: in the expedition of the Carthaginians under Barcas,1107 they found, according to historians, that the people of Turdetania used silver goblets1108 and casks. One might guess too that it was on account of this great opulence that the men of the country, and their chiefs in particular, were styled long-lived. Wherefore Anacreon thus sings,

“Neither would I desire the horn of Amalthea, nor to reign over Tartessus one hundred and fifty years.”

Herodotus too has preserved the name of the king, whom he calls Arganthonius.1109 The passage of Anacreon must therefore either be understood [of this king], or some other like him; or else more generally thus, “nor to reign for a lengthened period in Tartessus.” Some writers1110 are of opinion that Tartessus is the present Carteia.

15. The Turdetani not only enjoy a salubrious climate but their manners are polished and urbane, as also are those of the people of Keltica, by reason of their vicinity [to the Turdetani], or, according to Polybius, on account of their [Pg 227] being of the same stock, but not to so great a degree, for they live for the most part scattered in villages. The Turdetani, on the other hand, especially those who dwell about the Guadalquiver,1111 have so entirely adopted the Roman mode of life, as even to have forgotten their own language. They have for the most part become Latins,1112 and received Roman colonists; so that a short time only is wanted before they will be all Romans. The very names of many of the towns at present, such as Pax Augusta1113 amongst the Keltici, Augusta-Emerita1114 amongst the Turduli, Cæsar-Augusta1115 amongst the Keltiberians and certain other colonies, are proof of the change of manners I have spoken of. Those of the Iberians who adopt these new modes of life are styled togati. Amongst their number are the Keltiberians, who formerly were regarded as the most uncivilized of them all. So much for these.


1. Starting again from the Sacred Promontory,1116 and continuing along the other side of the coast, we come to the gulf near the Tagus, afterwards Cape Barbarium,1117 and near to this the outlets of the Tagus, which may be reached by sailing in a straight course for a distance of 10 stadia.1118 Here are estuaries, one of them more than 400 stadia from the said tower, on a part of which Laccæa is situated.1119 The breadth of the mouth of the Tagus is about 20 stadia, its depth is so great as to be capable of navigation by vessels of the greatest burden. At the flood-tide the Tagus forms two estuaries in the [Pg 228]
[CAS. 152]
plains which lie above it, so that the plain is inundated and rendered navigable for a distance of 150 stadia. In the upper estuary an island is formed about 30 stadia in length, and nearly equal in breadth, which is fertile, and has excellent vines. The island lies near to Moro,1120 a city happily situated on a mountain close to the river, and about 500 stadia from the sea. The country surrounding it is very fine, and the ascent [of the Tagus] for a considerable way practicable for vessels of a large size, the remainder is performed in river-boats. Above Moro it is navigable for a yet longer distance. Brutus, surnamed the Gallician, made use of this city as a military station, when fighting against the Lusitanians, whom he subdued. On the sides of the river he fortified Olysipo, in order that the passage up the river and the carriage of necessaries might be preserved unimpeded. These therefore are the finest cities near the Tagus. The river contains much fish, and is full of oysters. It takes its rise amongst the Keltiberians, and flows through the [country of the] Vettones, Carpetani, and Lusitani, towards the west;1121 to a certain distance it runs parallel with the Guadiana1122 and Guadalquiver,1123 but parts from them as they decline towards the southern coast.

2. Of those who dwell above the aforesaid mountains, the Oretani are the most southern, extending in part as far as the sea-coast on this side the Pillars. Next these towards the north are the Carpetani, then the Vettones and Vaccæi, through whose [country] the Douro1124 flows as it passes Acontia,1125 a city of the Vaccæi. The Gallicians are the last, and inhabit for the most part a mountainous country: on this account they were the most difficult to subdue, and furnished his surname to the conqueror of the Lusitanians; in fact, at the present day the greater part of the Lusitanians are beginning to call themselves Gallicians. The finest cities of Oretania are Castulo1126 and Oria.1127

3. North of the Tagus is Lusitania, the principal of the nations of Iberia, and the one which has most frequently encountered the arms of the Romans. On the southern side [Pg 229] this country is bounded by the Tagus, on the west and north by the ocean, on the east by the well-known nations of the Carpetani, the Vettones, the Vaccæi, the Gallicians, and by others not worthy to be mentioned on account of their insignificance and obscurity. On the other hand, certain historians of the present day give the name of Lusitanians to all of these nations.

To the east the Gallicians border on the nation of the Asturians and Keltiberians, the others [border] on the Keltiberians. In length Lusitania is 30001128 stadia; its breadth, which is comprised between the eastern side and the opposite sea-coast, is much less. The eastern part is mountainous and rugged, while the country beyond, as far as the sea, consists entirely of plains, with the exception of a few inconsiderable mountains. On this account Posidonius remarks that Aristotle was not correct in supposing that the ebb and flow of the tide was occasioned by the sea-coast of Iberia and Maurusia.1129 For Aristotle asserted that the tides of the sea were caused by the extremities of the land being mountainous and rugged, and therefore both receiving the wave violently and also casting it back. Whereas Posidonius truly remarks that they are for the most part low and sandy.

4. The country which we are describing is fertile, and irrigated by rivers both large and small, all of which flow from the eastern parts parallel with the Tagus: most of them are navigable and full of gold dust. After the Tagus, the most noted rivers are the Mondego1130 and the Vouga,1131 which are navigable but for a short distance. After these is the Douro,1132 which flows from afar by Numantia,1133 and many other colonies of the Keltiberians and Vaccæi; it is capable of being navigated in large vessels for a distance of nearly 800 stadia. Besides these there are other rivers, after which is the [river] of Lethe, which some call the Limæa,1134 others the Belio,1135 it likewise rises amongst the Keltiberians and Vaccæi. After [Pg 230]
[CAS. 153]
this is the Bænis, (some call it the Minius,1136) by far the largest river of Lusitania,1137 being navigable for a distance of 800 stadia. Posidonius says this too rises amongst the Cantabrians.1138 An island1139 lies before its outlet, and two moles affording anchorage for vessels. A natural advantage [of this country] well deserving of commendation is, that the banks of the rivers are so lofty as to be capable of containing the entirety of the water raised by the high tides of the sea, without either being overfilled, or overflowing the plains. This was the limit of Brutus’s expedition. Beyond there are many other rivers parallel to those I have named.

5. The Artabri are the last of the people [on this coast]. They inhabit the promontory called Nerium,1140 which is the boundary [of Iberia] on its western and northern sides. Around it dwell the Keltici, a kindred race to those who are situated along the Guadiana.1141 They say that these latter, together with the Turduli, having undertaken an expedition thither, quarrelled after they had crossed the river Lima,1142 and, besides the sedition, their leader having also died, they remained scattered there, and from this circumstance the river was called the Lethe.1143 The Artabri have besides many cities established round the Gulf, which mariners and those familiar with the places designate as the Port of the Artabri. At the present day the Artabri are denominated the Arotrebæ. About thirty1144 different nations occupy the country between the Tagus and the Artabri. Notwithstanding the fertility of the country in corn, cattle, gold, silver, and [Pg 231] numerous other similar productions, the majority of its inhabitants, neglecting to gain their subsistence from the ground, passed their lives in pillage and continual warfare, both between themselves and their neighbours, whom they used to cross the Tagus [to plunder]. To this the Romans at length put a stop by subduing them, and changing many of their cities into villages, besides colonizing some of them better. The mountaineers, as was natural, were the first to commence this lawless mode of life: for living but scantily, and possessing little, they coveted the goods of others, who being obliged to repulse them, of necessity relinquished their proper employments, and instead of pursuing agriculture took up arms. Thus it happened that their country, being neglected, became barren notwithstanding its natural advantages, and inhabited by bandits.

6. The Lusitanians are reported to be clever in laying ambushes, sharp, swift of foot, light,1145 and easily disciplined as soldiers. The small shield they make use of is two feet in diameter, its outer surface concave, and suspended by leather thongs; it neither has rings nor handles. They have in addition1146 a poignard or dagger. Their corselets are for the most part made of linen; a few have chain-coats and helmets with triple crests, but the others use helmets composed of sinews. The infantry wear greaves, each man is furnished with a number of javelins; some also use spears pointed with brass. They report that some of those who dwell near to the river Douro1147 imitate the Lacedæmonians in anointing their bodies with oil, using hot air-baths made of heated stones, bathing in cold water, and taking but one tidy and frugal meal a day. The Lusitanians are frequent in the performance of sacrifice; they examine the entrails, but without cutting them out of the body; they also examine the veins of the side, and practise augury by the touch. They likewise divine by the entrails of captive enemies, whom they first cover with a military cloak, and when stricken under the entrails by the haruspex, they draw their first auguries from the fall [of the [Pg 232]
[CAS. 155]
victim]. They cut off the right hands of their prisoners, and consecrate them to the gods.

7. All the mountaineers are frugal, their beverage is water, they sleep on the ground, and wear a profuse quantity of long hair after the fashion of women, which they bind around the forehead when they go to battle.1148 They subsist principally on the flesh of the goat, which animal they sacrifice to Mars, as also prisoners taken in war, and horses. They likewise offer hecatombs of each kind after the manner of the Greeks, described by Pindar,

“To sacrifice a hundred of every [species].”1149

They practise gymnastic exercises,1150 both as heavy-armed soldiers, and cavalry, also boxing, running, skirmishing, and fighting in bands. For two-thirds of the year the mountaineers feed on the acorn, which they dry, bruise, and afterwards grind and make into a kind of bread, which may be stored up for a long period. They also use beer; wine is very scarce, and what is made they speedily consume in feasting with their relatives. In place of oil they use butter. Their meals they take sitting, on seats put up round the walls, and they take place on these according to their age and rank. The supper is carried round, and whilst drinking they dance to the sound of the flute and trumpet, springing up and sinking upon the knees.1151

In Bastetania the women dance promiscuously with the men, each holding the other’s hand. They all dress in black, the majority of them in cloaks called saga, in which they sleep on beds of straw. They make use of wooden vessels like the Kelts. The women wear dresses and embroidered garments. Instead of money, those who dwell far in the interior exchange merchandise, or give pieces of silver cut off [Pg 233] from plates of that metal. Those condemned to death are executed by stoning; parricides are put to death without the frontiers or the cities. They marry according to the customs of the Greeks.1152 Their sick they expose upon the highways, the same way as the Egyptians1153 did anciently, in the hope that some one who has experienced the malady may be able to give them advice. Up to the time of [the expedition of] Brutus they made use of vessels constructed of skins for crossing the lagoons formed by the tides; they now have them formed out of the single trunk of a tree, but these are scarce. Their salt is purple, but becomes white by pounding. The life of the mountaineers is such as I have described, I mean those bordering the northern side of Iberia, the Gallicians, the Asturians, and the Cantabrians,1154 as far as the Vascons1155 and the Pyrenees. The mode of life amongst all these is similar. But I am reluctant to fill my page with their names, and would fain escape the disagreeable task of writing them, unless perchance the Pleutauri, the Bardyetæ, the Allotriges,1156 and other names still worse and more out of the way than these might be grateful to the ear of some one.

8. The rough and savage manners of these people is not alone owing to their wars, but likewise to their isolated position, it being a long distance to reach them, whether by sea or land. Thus the difficulty of communication has deprived [Pg 234]
[CAS. 156]
them both of generosity of manners and of courtesy. At the present time, however, they suffer less from this both on account of their being at peace and the intermixture of Romans. Wherever these [influences] are not so much experienced people are harsher and more savage. It is probable that this ruggedness of character is increased by the barrenness of the mountains and some of the places which they inhabit. At the present day, as I have remarked, all warfare is put an end to, Augustus Cæsar having subdued the Cantabrians1157 and the neighbouring nations, amongst whom the system of pillage was mainly carried on in our day. So that at the present time, instead of plundering the allies of the Romans, the Coniaci and those who dwell by the sources of the Ebro,1158 with the exception of the Tuisi,1159 bear arms for the Romans. Tiberius, who succeeded Augustus Cæsar, carried out his intention of placing a military force of three legions in these parts, by which means he has not only preserved peace, but introduced amongst some of them a civil polity.


1. What remains [to be described] of Iberia, is the sea-coast of the Mediterranean from the Pillars to the Pyrenees, and the whole of the inland country which lies above. The breadth of this is irregular, its length a little above 4000 stadia. It has been remarked that the sea-coast1160 is above 2000 stadia, and they say that from Mount Calpe,1161 which is near the Pillars, to New Carthage,1162 there are 2200 stadia. This coast is inhabited by the Bastetani, also called the Bastuli, and in part by the Oretani. Thence1163 to the Ebro the distance is nearly as great. This [region] is inhabited by the Edetani. On this side the Ebro to the Pyrenees and the Trophies of Pompey there are 1600 stadia. It is peopled by [Pg 235] a small portion of the Edetani, and the rest by a people named the Indicetes, divided into four cantons.

2. Commencing our particular description from Calpe, there is [first] the mountain-chain of Bastetania and the the Oretani. This is covered with thick woods and gigantic trees, and separates the sea-coast from the interior. In many places it also contains gold and other mines. The first city along the coast is Malaca,1164 which is about as far distant from Calpe as Calpe is from Gades.1165 It is a market for the nomade tribes from the opposite coast, and there are great stores of salt-fish there. Some suppose it to be the same as Mænaca, which tradition reports to be the farthest west of the cities of the Phocæi; but this is not the case, for Mænaca, which was situated at a greater distance from Calpe, is in ruins, and preserves traces of having been a Grecian city, whereas Malaca is nearer, and Phœnician in its configuration. Next in order is the city of the Exitani,1166 from which the salted fish1167 bearing that name takes its appellation.

3. After these comes Abdera,1168 founded likewise by the Phœnicians. Above these places, in the mountains, the city of Ulyssea1169 is shown, containing a temple to Minerva, according to the testimony of Posidonius, Artemidorus, and Asclepiades the Myrlean,1170 a man who taught literature in Turdetania, and published a description of the nations dwelling there. He says that in the temple of Minerva were hung up spears and prows of vessels, monuments of the wanderings [Pg 236]
[CAS. 157]
of Ulysses. That some of those who followed Teucer in his expedition settled among the Gallicians;1171 and that two cities were there, the one called Hellenes,1172 the other Amphilochi; but Amphilochus1173 having died, his followers wandered into the interior. He adds, that it is said, that some of the followers of Hercules, and certain also of the inhabitants of Messene, settled in Iberia. Both he and others assert that a portion of Cantabria was occupied by Laconians. Here is the city named Opsicella,1174 founded by Ocela,1175 who passed into Italy with Antenor and his children. Some believe the account of the merchants of Gades, asserted by Artemidorus, that in Libya there are people living above Maurusia, near to the Western Ethiopians, named Lotophagi, because they feed on the leaves and root of the lotus1176 without wanting to [Pg 237] drink; for they possess [no drink], being without water. These people they say extend as far as the regions above Cyrene. There are others also called Lotophagi, who inhabit Meninx,1177 one of the islands situated opposite the Lesser Syrtes.1178

4. No one should be surprised that the poet, in his fiction descriptive of the wanderings of Ulysses, should have located the majority of the scenes which he narrates without the Pillars, in the Atlantic. For historical events of a similar character did actually occur near to the places, so that the other circumstances which he feigned did not make his fiction incredible; nor [should any one be surprised] if certain persons, putting faith in the historical accuracy and extensive knowledge of the poet, should have attempted to explain the poem of Homer on scientific principles; a proceeding undertaken by Crates of Mallos,1179 and some others. On the other hand, there have been those who have treated the undertaking of Homer so contemptuously, as not only to deny any such knowledge to the poet, as though he were a ditcher or reaper, but have stigmatized as fools those who commented on his writings. And not one either of the grammarians, or of those skilled in the mathematics, has dared to undertake their defence, or to set right any mistakes in what they have advanced, or any thing else; although it seems to me possible both to prove correct much that they have said, and also to set right other points, especially where they have been misled by putting faith in Pytheas, who was ignorant of the countries situated along the ocean, both to the west and north. But we must let these matters pass, as they require a particular and lengthened discussion.

5. The settlement of the Grecians amongst these barbarous nations may be regarded as the result of the division of these latter into small tribes and sovereignties, having on account of their moroseness no union amongst themselves, and therefore powerless against attacks from without. This moroseness is remarkably prevalent amongst the Iberians, who are [Pg 238]
[CAS. 158]
besides crafty in their manner, devoid of sincerity, insidious, and predatory in their mode of life; they are bold in little adventures, but never undertake any thing of magnitude, inasmuch as they have never formed any extended power or confederacy. If they had had but the will to assist each other, neither could the Carthaginians by making an incursion have so easily deprived them of the greater part of their country, nor before them the Tyrians, then the Kelts, now called the Keltiberians and Berones, nor after these the brigand Viriathus, and Sertorius,1180 nor any others who desired power. On this account the Romans, having carried the war into Iberia, lost much time by reason of the number of different sovereignties, having to conquer first one, then another; in fact, it occupied nearly two centuries, or even longer, before they had subdued the whole.—I return to my description.

6. After Abdera1181 is New Carthage,1182 founded by Asdrubal, who succeeded Barcas, the father of Hannibal. It is by far the most powerful city of this country, being impregnable, and furnished with a noble wall, harbours, and a lake, besides the silver mines already mentioned. The places in the vicinity have an abundance of salted fish, and it is besides the great emporium of the sea merchandise for the interior, and likewise for the merchandise from the interior for exportation. About midway along the coast between this city and the Ebro, we meet with the outlet of the river Xucar,1183 and a city bearing the same name.1184 It rises in a mountain belonging to the chain which overlooks Malaca,1185 and the regions around Carthage, and may be forded on foot; it is nearly parallel to the Ebro, but not quite so far distant from Carthage as from the Ebro. Between the Xucar and Carthage are three small towns of the people of Marseilles, not far from the river. Of these the best known is Hemeroscopium.1186 On the promontory there is a temple to Diana of Ephesus, held in great veneration. Sertorius used it as an arsenal, convenient to the sea, both on account of its being fortified and fitted for piratical uses, and because it is visible from a great distance [Pg 239] to vessels approaching. It is called Dianium,1187 from Diana. Near to it are some fine iron-works, and two small islands, Planesia1188 and Plumbaria,1189 with a sea-water lake lying above, of 400 stadia in circumference. Next is the island of Hercules, near to Carthage, and called Scombraria,1190 on account of the mackerel taken there, from which the finest garum1191 is made. It is distant 24 stadia from Carthage. On the other side of the Xucar, going towards the outlet of the Ebro, is Saguntum, founded by the Zacynthians. The destruction of this city by Hannibal, contrary to his treaties with the Romans, kindled the second Punic war. Near to it are the cities of Cherronesus,1192 Oleastrum, and Cartalia, and the colony of Dertossa,1193 on the very passage of the Ebro. The Ebro takes its source amongst the Cantabrians; it flows through an extended plain towards the south, running parallel with the Pyrenees.

7. The first city between the windings of the Ebro and the extremities of the Pyrenees, near to where the Trophies of Pompey are erected, is Tarraco;1194 it has no harbour, but is situated on a bay, and possessed of many other advantages. At the present day it is as well peopled as Carthage;1195 for it is admirably suited for the stay of the prefects,1196 and is as it were the metropolis, not only of [the country lying] on this side the Ebro, but also of a great part of what lies beyond. The near vicinity of the Gymnesian Islands,1197 and Ebusus,1198 which are all of considerable importance, are sufficient to inform one of the felicitous position of the city. Eratosthenes tells us that it has a roadstead, but Artemidorus contradicts this, and affirms that it scarcely possesses an anchorage.

8. The whole coast from the Pillars up to this place wants harbours, but all the way from here to Emporium,1199 the countries of the Leëtani, the Lartolæetæ, and others, are both furnished with excellent harbours and fertile. Emporium was founded by the people of Marseilles, and is about 40001200 stadia [Pg 240]
[CAS. 160]
distant from the Pyrenees, and the confines of Iberia and Keltica. This is a very fine region, and possesses good ports. Here also is Rhodope,1201 a small town of the Emporitæ, but some say it was founded by the Rhodians. Both here and in Emporium they reverence the Ephesian Diana. The cause of this we will explain when we come to speak of Massalia.1202 In former times the Emporitæ dwelt on a small island opposite, now called the old city, but at the present day they inhabit the mainland. The city is double, being divided by a wall, for in past times some of the Indiceti dwelt close by, who, although they had a separate polity to themselves, desired, for the sake of safety, to be shut in by a common enclosure with the Grecians; but at the same time that this enclosure should be two-fold, being divided through its middle by a wall. In time, however, they came to have but one government, a mixture of Barbarian and Grecian laws; a result which has taken place in many other [states].

9. A river1203 flows near to it, which has its sources in the Pyrenees; its outlet forms a port for the Emporitæ, who are skilful workers in flax. Of the interior of their country some parts are fertile, others covered with spartum, a rush which flourishes in marshes, and is entirely useless: they call this the Junc Plain. There are some who inhabit the Pyrenean mountains as far as the Trophies of Pompey, on the route which leads from Italy into Ulterior Iberia,1204 and particularly into Bætica. This road runs sometimes close to the sea, sometimes at a distance therefrom, particularly in the western parts. From the Trophies of Pompey it leads to Tarraco,1205 through the Junc Plain, the Betteres,1206 and the plain called in the Latin tongue [the plain] of Marathon, on account [Pg 241] of the quantity of fennel growing there. From Tarraco [the road runs] towards the passage of the Ebro at the city of Dertossa;1207 from thence having traversed the city of Saguntum,1208 and Setabis,1209 it follows a course more and more distant from the sea, till it approaches the Plain of Spartarium, which signifies the Plain of Rushes. This is a vast arid plain, producing the species of rush from which cords are made, and which are exported to all parts, but particularly to Italy.1210 Formerly the road passed on through the midst of the plain, and [the city of] Egelastæ,1211 which was both difficult and long, but they have now constructed a new road close to the sea, which merely touches upon the Plain of Rushes, and leads to the same places as the former, [viz.] Castlon,1212 and Obulco,1213 through which runs the road to Corduba and Gades,1214 the two greatest emporia [of Iberia]. Obulco is distant about 300 stadia from Corduba. Historians report that Cæsar came from Rome to Obulco, and to his army there, within the space of twenty-seven days, when about to fight the battle of Munda.1215

10. Such is the whole sea-coast from the Pillars to the confines of the Iberians and Kelts. The interior of the country lying above, and included between the mountains of the Pyrenees and the northern side [of Iberia], as far as the Astures, is principally divided by two mountain chains; the one of these is parallel to the Pyrenees, and takes its commencement from the country of the Cantabri, terminating at the Mediterranean. This is called the Idubeda.1216 The second, springing from the middle [of this first], runs towards the west, inclining however to the south and the sea-coast towards the Pillars. At the commencement it consists of bare hills, but after traversing the Plain of Spartarium, falls in with the forest lying above Carthage,1217 and the regions round Malaca.1218 It is named Orospeda.1219 The river Ebro flows between the Pyrenees and Idubeda, and parallel to both these mountains. It is fed by the rivers and other waters carried down [Pg 242]
[CAS. 161]
from [the mountains]. Situated on the Ebro is the city of Cæsar Augusta,1220 and the colony of Celsa,1221 where there is a stone bridge across the river. This country is inhabited by many nations, the best known being that of the Jaccetani.1222 Commencing at the foot of the Pyrenees, it widens out into the plains, and reaches to the districts around Ilerda1223 and Osca,1224 [cities] of the Ilergetes not far distant from the Ebro. It was in these cities, and in Calaguris,1225 a city of the Gascons, as well as those of Tarraco1226 and Hemeroscopium,1227 situated on the coast, that Sertorius sustained the last efforts of the war, after being ejected from the country of the Keltiberians. He died at Osca, and it was near to Ilerda that Afranius and Petreius, Pompey’s generals, were afterwards defeated by divus1228 Cæsar. Herda is distant 160 stadia from the Ebro, which is on its west, about 460 from Tarraco, which is on the south, and 540 from Osca, which lies to the north.1229 Passing through these places from Tarraco to the extremities of the Vascons who dwell by the ocean, near Pompelon1230 and the city of Œaso1231 situated on the ocean, the route extends 2400 stadia, to the very frontiers of Aquitaine and Iberia. It was in the country of the Jaccetani that Sertorius fought against Pompey, and here afterwards Sextus, Pompey’s son, fought against the generals of Cæsar. The nation of the Vascons, in which is Pompelon, or Pompey’s city, lies north of Jaccetania.

11. The side of the Pyrenees next Iberia is covered with forests containing numerous kinds of trees and evergreens, whilst the side next Keltica is bare: in the midst [the mountains] enclose valleys admirably fitted for the habitation of [Pg 243] man. These are mainly possessed by the Kerretani, a people of the Iberians. The hams they cure are excellent, fully equal to those of the Cantabrians,1232 and they realize no inconsiderable profit to the inhabitants.

12. Immediately after passing Idubeda, you enter on Keltiberia, a large and irregular country. It is for the most part rugged, and watered by rivers, being traversed by the Guadiana,1233 the Tagus, and many other of the rivers which flow into the western sea, but have their sources in Keltiberia. Of their number is the Douro, which flows by Numantia1234 and Serguntia. The Guadalquiver1235 rises in Orospeda, and after passing through Oretania, enters Bætica. The Berones inhabit the districts north of the Keltiberians, and are neighbours of the Conish Cantabrians. They likewise had their origin in the Keltic expedition. Their city is Varia,1236 situated near to the passage of the Ebro. They are adjacent to the Bardyitæ, now called the Bardyli.1237 To the west [of the Keltiberians] are certain of the Astures, Gallicians, and Vaccæi, besides Vettones and Carpetani. On the south are the Oretani, and the other inhabitants of Orospeda, both Bastetani and Edetani,1238 and to the east is Idubeda.

13. Of the four divisions into which the Keltiberians are separated, the most powerful are the Aruaci, situated to the east and south, near to the Carpetani and the sources of the Tagus. Their most renowned city is Numantia. They showed their valour in the war of twenty years, waged by the Keltiberians against the Romans; for many armies of the Romans, together with their generals, were destroyed; and in the end the Numantians, besieged within their city, endured the famine with constancy, till, reduced to a very small number, they were compelled to surrender the place. The Lusones are also situated to the east, and likewise border on the sources of the Tagus. Segeda and Pallantia1239 are cities of the Aru>aci. [Pg 244]
[CAS. 162]
Numantia is distant from Cæsar Augusta,1240 situated as we have said upon the Ebro, about 800 stadia. Near to Segobriga and Bilbilis,1241 likewise cities of the Keltiberians, was fought the battle between Metellus and Sertorius. Polybius, describing the people and countries of the Vaccæi and Keltiberians, enumerates Segesama1242 and Intercatia amongst their other cities. Posidonius tells us that Marcus Marcellus exacted of Keltiberia a tribute of 600 talents, which proves that the Keltiberians were a numerous and wealthy people, notwithstanding the little fertility of their country. Polybius narrates that Tiberius Gracchus destroyed 300 cities of the Keltiberians. This Posidonius ridicules, and asserts that to flatter Gracchus, Polybius described as cities the towers such as are exhibited in the triumphal processions.1243 This is not incredible; for both generals and historians easily fall into this species of deception, by exaggerating their doings. Those who assert that Iberia contained more than a thousand cities, seem to me to have been carried away in a similar manner, and to have denominated as cities what were merely large villages; since, from its very nature, this country is incapable of maintaining so many cities, on account of its sterility, wildness, and its out-of-the-way position. Nor, with the exception of those who dwell along the shores of the Mediterranean, is any such statement confirmed by the mode of life or actions of the inhabitants. The inhabitants of the villages, who constitute the majority of the Iberians, are quite uncivilized. Even the cities cannot very easily refine the manners [of their inhabitants], as the neighbouring woods are full of robbers, waiting only an opportunity to inflict injury on the citizens.

14. Beyond the Keltiberians to the south are the inhabitants [Pg 245] of Orospeda and the country about the Xucar,1244 the Sidetani,1245 [who extend] as far as Carthage,1246 and the Bastetani and Oretani, [who extend] almost as far as Malaca.1247

15. All the Iberians, so to speak, were peltastæ, furnished with light arms for the purposes of robbery, and, as we described the Lusitanians, using the javelin, the sling, and the sword. They have some cavalry interspersed amongst the foot-soldiers, the horses are trained to traverse the mountains, and to sink down on their knees at the word of command, in case of necessity. Iberia produces abundance of antelopes and wild horses. In many places the lakes are stocked. They have fowl, swans, and birds of similar kind, and vast numbers of bustards. Beavers are found in the rivers, but the castor does not possess the same virtue as that from the Euxine,1248 the drug from that place having peculiar properties of its own, as is the case in many other instances. Thus Posidonius tells us that the Cyprian copper alone produces the cadmian stone, copperas-water, and oxide of copper. He likewise informs us of the singular fact, that in Iberia the crows are not black; and that the horses of Keltiberia which are spotted, lose that colour when they pass into Ulterior Iberia. He compares them to the Parthian horses, for indeed they are superior to all other breeds, both in fleetness and their ease in speedy travelling.

16. Iberia produces a large quantity of roots used in dyeing. In olives, vines, figs, and every kind of similar fruit-trees, the Iberian coast next the Mediterranean abounds, they are likewise plentiful beyond. Of the coasts next the ocean, that towards the north is destitute of them, on account of the cold, and the remaining portion generally on account of the apathy of the men, and because they do not lead a civilized life, but pass their days in poverty, only acting on the animal [Pg 246]
[CAS. 164]
impulse, and living most corruptly. They do not attend to ease or luxury, unless any one considers it can add to the happiness of their lives to wash themselves and their wives in stale urine kept in tanks, and to rinse their teeth with it, which they say is the custom both with the Cantabrians and their neighbours.1249 This practice, as well as that of sleeping on the ground, is common both among the Iberians and Kelts. Some say that the Gallicians are atheists, but that the Keltiberians, and their neighbours to the north, [sacrifice] to a nameless god, every full moon, at night, before their doors, the whole family passing the night in dancing and festival. The Vettones, the first time they came to a Roman camp, and saw certain of the officers walking up and down the roads for the mere pleasure of walking, supposed that they were mad, and offered to show them the way to their tents. For they thought, when not fighting, one should remain quietly seated at ease.1250

17. What Artemidorus relates concerning the adornment of certain of their women, must likewise be attributed to their barbarous customs. He says that they wear iron collars having crows fixed to them which bend over the head, and fall forward considerably over the forehead. When they wish they draw their veil over these crows, so as to shade the whole face: this they consider an ornament. Others wear a tympanium1251 surrounding the occiput, and fitting tight to the head as far as the ears, turning over [and increasing] little by little in height and breadth. Others again make bald the front of the head, in order to display the forehead to greater advantage. Some twist their flowing hair round a small style, a foot high, and afterwards cover it with a black veil. Of singularities like these many have been observed and recorded as to all the Iberian nations in common, but [Pg 247] particularly those towards the north, not only concerning their bravery, but likewise their cruelty and brutal madness. For in the war against the Cantabrians, mothers have slain their children sooner than suffer them to be captured; and a young boy, having obtained a sword, slew, at the command of his father, both his parents and brothers, who had been made prisoners and were bound, and a woman those who had been taken together with her. A man being invited by a party of drunken [soldiers] to their feast, threw himself into a fire. These feelings are common both to the Keltic, Thracian, and Scythian nations, as well as the valour not only of their men, but likewise of their women. These till the ground,1252 and after parturition, having put their husbands instead of themselves to bed, they wait upon them. Frequently in their employment they wash and swathe their infants, sitting down by some stream. Posidonius tells us that in Liguria, his host Charmoleon, a man who came from Marseilles, related to him, that having hired some men and women to dig his land, one of the women was seized with the pains of labour, and going to a little distance from where they were at work, she brought forth, and returned immediately to her work, for fear she might lose her pay. He observed that she was evidently working in considerable pain, but was not aware of the cause till towards evening, when he ascertained it, and sent her away, having given her her wages. She then carried her infant to a small spring, and having washed it, wrapped it up in as good swaddling clothes as she could get, and made the best of her way home.

18. Another practice, not restricted to the Iberians alone, is for two to mount on one horse, so that in the event of a conflict, one may be there to fight on foot. Neither are they the only sufferers in being tormented with vast swarms of mice, from which pestilential diseases have frequently ensued. This occurred to the Romans in Cantabria, so that they caused it to be proclaimed, that whoever would catch the mice should receive rewards according to the number taken, and [even with this] they were scarcely preserved, as they were suffering besides from want of corn and other necessaries, it being difficult to get supplies of corn from Aquitaine on account of [Pg 248]
CAS. 165
the rugged nature of the country. It is a proof of the ferocity of the Cantabrians, that a number of them having been taken prisoners and fixed to the cross, they chanted songs of triumph. Instances such as these are proofs of the ferocity of their manners. There are others which, although not showing them to be polished, are certainly not brutish. For example, amongst the Cantabrians, the men give dowries to their wives, and the daughters are left heirs, but they procure wives for their brothers. These things indicate a degree of power in the woman, although they are no proof of advanced civilization.1253 It is also a custom with the Iberians to furnish themselves with a poison, which kills without pain, and which they procure from a herb resembling parsley. This they hold in readiness in case of misfortune, and to devote themselves for those whose cause they have joined, thus dying for their sake.1254

[Pg 249] 19. Some, as I have said, state that this country is separated into four divisions; others, into five. It is not easy to state any thing precisely on these points, both on account of the changes which the places have undergone, and by reason of their obscurity. In well-known and notable countries both the migrations are known, and the divisions of the land, and the changes of their names, and every thing else of the same kind. Such matters being the common topics with everybody, and especially with the Greeks, who are more talkative than any other people. But in barbarous and out-of-the-way countries, and such as are cut up into small divisions, and lie scattered, the remembrance of such occurrences is not nearly so certain, nor yet so full. If these countries are far removed from the Greeks [our] ignorance is increased. For although the Roman historians imitate the Greeks, they fall far short of them. What they relate is taken from the Greeks, very little being the result of their own ardour in acquiring information. So that whenever any thing has been omitted by the former there is not much supplied by the latter. Add to this, that the names most celebrated are generally Grecian. Formerly the name of Iberia was given to the whole country between the Rhone and the isthmus formed by the two Galatic gulfs; whereas now they make the Pyrenees its boundary, and call it indifferently Iberia or Hispania; others have restricted Iberia to the country on this side the Ebro.1255 Still earlier it bore the name of the Igletes,1256 who inhabited but a small district, according to Asclepiades the Myrlean. The Romans call the whole indifferently Iberia and Hispania, [Pg 250]
[CAS. 166]
but designate one portion of it Ulterior, and the other Citerior. However, at different periods they have divided it differently, according to its political aspect at various times.

20. At the present time some of the provinces having been assigned to the people and senate of the Romans, and the others to the emperor, Bætica appertains to the people, and a prætor has been sent into the country, having under him a quæstor and a lieutenant. Its eastern boundary has been fixed near to Castlon.1257 The remainder belongs to the emperor, who deputes two lieutenants, a prætor, and a consul. The prætor with a lieutenant administers justice amongst the Lusitanians, who are situated next Bætica, and extend as far as the outlets of the river Douro, for at the present time this district is called Lusitania by the inhabitants. Here is [the city of] Augusta Emerita.1258 What remains, which is [indeed] the greater part of Iberia, is governed by the consul, who has under him a respectable force, consisting of about three legions, with three lieutenants, one of whom with two legions guards the whole country north of the Douro, the inhabitants of which formerly were styled Lusitanians, but are now called Gallicians. The northern mountains, together with the Asturian and Cantabrian, border on these. The river Melsus1259 flows through the country of the Asturians, and at a little distance is the city of Noïga,1260 close to an estuary formed by the ocean, which separates the Asturians from the Cantabrians. The second lieutenant with the remaining legion governs the adjoining district as far as the Pyrenees. The third oversees the midland district, and governs the cities inhabited by the togati, whom we have before alluded to as inclined to peace, and who have adopted the refined manners and mode of life of the Italians, together with the toga. These are the Keltiberians, and those who dwell on either side of the Ebro, as far as the sea-coast. The consul passes the winter in the maritime districts, mostly administering justice [Pg 251] either in [the city of] Carthage,1261 or Tarraco.1262 During the summer he travels through the country, observing whatever may need reform. There are also the procurators of the emperor, men of the equestrian rank, who distribute the pay to the soldiers for their maintenance.


1. Of the islands which are situated in front of Iberia, two named the Pityussæ, and two the Gymnasiæ, (also called the Baleares,) are situated on the sea-coast between Tarraco and [the river] Xucar, on which Saguntum1263 is built. The Pityussæ are situated farther in the high seas and more to the west than the Gymnasiæ. One of the Pityussæ is called Ebusus,1264 having a city of the same name. This island is 400 stadia in circumference, and nearly equal in its breadth and length. The other, [named] Ophiussa, is situated near to this, but is desert, and much smaller. The larger1265 of the Gymnasiæ contains two cities, Palma,1266 and Polentia;1267 the latter lying towards the east, the former towards the west. The length of this island is scarcely less than 600 stadia, its breadth 200; although Artemidorus asserts it is twice this size both in breadth and length.1268 The smaller island1269 is about [2]70 stadia distant from Polentia; in size it is far surpassed by the larger island, but in excellence it is by no means inferior, for both of them are very fertile, and furnished with harbours. At the mouths of these however there are rocks rising but a little out of the water, which renders attention necessary in entering them. The fertility of these places inclines the inhabitants to peace, as also the people of Ebusus. But certain [Pg 252]
[CAS. 168]
malefactors, though few in number, having associated with the pirates in those seas, they all got a bad name, and Metellus, surnamed Balearicus, marched against them. He it was who built the cities. But owing to the great fertility of the country, these people have always had enemies plotting against them. Although naturally disposed to peace, they bear the reputation of being most excellent slingers, which art they have been proficient in since the time that the Phœnicians possessed the islands. It is said that these1270 were the first who introduced amongst the men [of the Baleares] the custom of wearing tunics with wide borders. They were accustomed to go into battle naked, having a shield covered with goat-skin in their hand, and a javelin hardened by fire at the point, very rarely with an iron tip, and wearing round the head three slings of black rush,1271 hair, or sinew. The long sling they use for hitting at far distances, the short one for near marks, and the middle one for those between. From childhood they were so thoroughly practised in the use of slings, that bread was never distributed to the children till they had won it by the sling.1272 On this account Metellus, when he was approaching the islands, spread pelts over the decks, as a shelter from the slings. He introduced [into the country] 3000 Roman colonists from Spain.

2. In addition to the fruitfulness of the land, noxious animals are rarely to be met with. Even the rabbits, they say, were not indigenous, but that a male and female having been introduced by some one from the opposite continent, from thence the whole stock sprung, which formerly was so great a nuisance that even houses and trees were overturned, [being undermined] by their warrens, and the inhabitants [Pg 253] were compelled, as we have related, to resort for refuge to the Romans. However, at the present day the facility with which these animals are taken, prevents them from doing injury, consequently those who possess land cultivate it with advantage. These [islands] are on this side of what are called the Pillars of Hercules.

3. Near to them are two small islands, one of which is called the Island of Juno: some call these the Pillars. Beyond the Pillars is Gades,1273 concerning which all that we have hitherto remarked is, that it is distant from Calpe1274 about 750 stadia, and is situated near to the outlet of the Guadalquiver.1275 Notwithstanding there is much can be said about it. For its inhabitants equip the greatest number of ships, and the largest in size, both for our sea,1276 and the exterior [ocean], although the island they inhabit is by no means large, nor yet do they possess much of the mainland, nor are masters of other islands. They dwell for the most part on the sea, only a few staying at home or passing their time in Rome. Still, in amount of population, their city does not seem to be surpassed by any with the exception of Rome. I have heard that in a census taken within our own times, there were enumerated five hundred citizens of Gades of the equestrian order, a number equalled by none of the Italian cities excepting that of the Patavini.1277 However, notwithstanding their vast number, its inhabitants possess an island, in length1278 not much above 100 stadia, and in some places only one stadium in breadth. Originally the city in which they dwelt was extremely small, but Balbus1279 the Gaditanian, who received the honours of a [Pg 254]
[CAS. 169]
triumph, added another to it which they call the New Town. These two form the city of Didyme,1280 which is not above twenty stadia in circumference. In it, however, they are not pressed for room, because few live at home, the majority passing their lives on the sea, some too dwelling on the opposite continent, and particularly on a little island adjacent on account of its excellence. They have such a liking for this place as almost to have made it a rival city to Didyme. However, few in comparison inhabit either this or the sea-port which Balbus constructed for them on the opposite continent. Their city is situated in the western parts of the island. Near to it is the temple of Saturn, which terminates [Gades to the west], and is opposite the smaller island. The temple of Hercules is on the other side, to the east, where the island approaches nearest to the mainland, being only separated therefrom by a strait of a stadium [in breadth].1281 They say that this temple is twelve miles from the city, thus making the number of miles and the number of [Hercules’] labours equal: but this is too great, being almost equal to the length of the island. Now the length of the island runs from west to east.

4. Pherecydes appears to have given to Gades the name of Erythia, the locality of the myths concerning Geryon: others suppose it to have been the island situated near to this city, and separated from it by a strait of merely one stadium. This they do on account of the excellence of its pasturage. [Pg 255] For the milk of the cattle which feed there does not yield any whey, and they are obliged to mix it with large quantities of water when they make cheese on account of its richness. After fifty days the beasts [pasturing there] would be choked unless they were let blood. The pasturage of the country is dry, but it fattens wonderfully: and it is thought that from this the myth concerning the oxen of Geryon took its rise. The whole sea-shore however is possessed in common.1282

5. Concerning the foundation of Gades, the Gaditanians report that a certain oracle commanded the Tyrians to found a colony by the Pillars of Hercules. Those who were sent out for the purpose of exploring, when they had arrived at the strait by Calpe, imagined that the capes which form the strait were the boundaries of the habitable earth, as well as of the expedition of Hercules, and consequently they were what the oracle termed the Pillars. They landed on the inside of the straits, at a place where the city of the Exitani now stands. Here they offered sacrifices, which however not being favourable, they returned. After a time others were sent, who advanced about 15001283 stadia beyond the strait, to an island consecrated to Hercules, and lying opposite to Onoba, a city of Iberia: considering that here were the Pillars, they sacrificed to the god, but the sacrifices being again unfavourable, they returned home. In the third voyage they reached Gades, and founded the temple in the eastern part of the island, and the city in the west. On this account some consider that the capes in the strait are the Pillars, others suppose Gades, while others again believe that they lie still farther, beyond Gades. There are also some who think that the Pillars are Calpe,1284 and the mountain of Libya which is opposite, named Abilyx,1285 and situated, according to Eratosthenes, amongst the Metagonians, a wandering race. Others fancy that they are two small islands near to the former, one of which is named the Island of Juno. Artemidorus speaks both of the Island of Juno and the temple there, but makes no mention either of mount Abilyx, or the nation of [Pg 256]
[CAS. 170]
the Metagonians.1286 Some have transported hither the Planctæ and the Symplegades, supposing them to be the Pillars, which Pindar calls the Gates of Gades, when he says that they were the farthest limits at which Hercules arrived.1287 Dicæarchus, Eratosthenes, and Polybius, with most of the Grecians, represent the Pillars as being close to the strait, while the Iberians and Libyans place them at Gades, alleging that there is nothing at all resembling pillars close by the strait. Others pretend that they are the pillars of brass eight cubits high in the temple of Hercules at Gades, on which is inscribed the cost of erecting that edifice; and that the sailors coming there on the completion of their voyage and sacrificing to Hercules, rendered the place so famous that it came to be regarded as the termination of the land and sea. Posidonius thinks this view the most probable of all, and looks upon the oracle and the several expeditions as a Phœnician invention.1288 As for the expeditions, what matters it whether any one should vehemently deny or credit the account, as neither the one nor the other would be inconsistent with reason: but the assertion that neither the little islands, nor yet the mountains, bear much resemblance to pillars, and that we should seek for pillars, strictly so called, [set up] either as the termination of the habitable earth, or of the expedition of Hercules, has at all events some reason in it; it being an ancient usage to set up such boundary marks. As for instance the small column which the inhabitants of Rhegium1289 erected by the Strait of Sicily, which is indeed a little tower; and the tower called after Pelorus, which is situated opposite to this small column; also the structures called altars1290 of the Philæni, about midway in the land between the Syrtes; likewise it is recorded, that a certain pillar was formerly erected on the Isthmus of Corinth, which the Ionians who took possession of Attica and Megaris when they were driven out of the Peloponnesus, and those who settled in the Peloponnesus, set up in common, and inscribed on the side next Megaris,

[Pg 257]

“This is no longer Peloponnesus, but Ionia;”

and on the opposite,

“This is Peloponnesus, not Ionia.”

Alexander too erected altars as boundaries of his Indian campaign in those parts of the Indies he arrived at, which were situated farthest towards the east, in imitation of Hercules and Bacchus.1291 That this custom existed, then, cannot be doubted.

6. It is probable that the places themselves took the same name [as the monuments], especially after time had destroyed the boundary marks which had been placed there. For instance, at the present day the altars of the Philæni no longer exist, but the place itself bears that designation. Similarly they say that in India neither the pillars of Hercules or Bacchus are to be seen, nevertheless certain localities being described and pointed out to the Macedonians, they believed that those places were the pillars in which they discovered any trace either of the adventures of Bacchus or Hercules. In the instance before us, it is not improbable that they who first [visited these regions], set up boundary marks fashioned by the hand of man, such as altars, towers, and pillars, in the most remarkable situations, to indicate the farthest distance they had reached, (and straits, the surrounding mountains, and little islands, are indubitably the most remarkable situations for pointing out the termination or commencement of places,) and that after these human monuments had decayed, their names descended to the places [where they had stood]; whether that were the little islands or the capes forming the strait. This latter point it would not be easy now to determine; the name would suit either place, as they both bear some resemblance to pillars; I say bear some resemblance, because they are placed in such situations as might well indicate boundaries. Now this strait is styled a mouth, as well as many others, but the mouth is at the beginning to those sailing into the strait, and to those who are quitting it at the end. The little islands at the mouth having a contour easy to describe, and being remarkable, one might not improperly compare to pillars. In like manner the mountains overlooking the strait are prominent, [Pg 258]
[CAS. 172]
resembling columns or pillars. So too Pindar might very justly have said, “The Gaditanian Gates,” if he had in mind the pillars at the mouth; for these mouths are very similar to gates. On the other hand, Gades is not in a position to indicate an extremity, but is situated about the middle of a long coast forming a kind of gulf. The supposition that the pillars of the temple of Hercules in Gades are intended, appears to me still less probable. It seems most likely that the name was originally conferred not by merchants, but generals, its celebrity afterwards became universal, as was the case with the Indian pillars. Besides, the inscription recorded refutes this idea, since it contains no religious dedication, but a mere list of expenses; whereas the pillars of Hercules should have been a record of the hero’s wonderful deeds, not of Phœnician expenditure.

7. Polybius relates that there is a spring within the temple of Hercules at Gades, having a descent of a few steps to fresh water, which is affected in a manner the reverse of the sea-tides, subsiding at the flow of the tide, and springing at the ebb. He assigns as the cause of this phenomenon, that air rises from the interior to the surface of the earth; when this surface is covered by the waves, at the rising of the sea, the air is deprived of its ordinary vents, and returns to the interior, stopping up the passages of the spring, and causing a want of water, but when the surface is again laid bare, the air having a direct exit liberates the channels which feed the spring, so that it gushes freely. Artemidorus rejects this explanation, and substitutes one of his own, recording at the same time the opinion of the historian Silanus; but neither one or other of their views seems to me worth relating, since both he and Silanus were ignorant in regard to these matters. Posidonius asserts that the entire account is false, and adds that there are two wells in the temple of Hercules, and a third in the city. That the smaller of the two in the temple of Hercules, if drawn from frequently, will become for a time exhausted, but that on ceasing to draw from it, it fills again: while in regard to the larger, it may be drawn from during the whole day; that it is true it becomes lower, like all other wells, but that it fills again during the night when drawing ceases. [He adds] that the ebb tide frequently happening to occur during the period of its re-filling, gave rise [Pg 259] to the groundless belief of the inhabitants as to its being affected in an opposite manner [to the tides of the ocean]. However it is not only related by him that it is a commonly believed fact, but we have received it from tradition as much referred to amongst paradoxes.1292 We have likewise heard that there are wells both within the city and also in the gardens without, but that on account of the inferiority of this water, tanks are generally constructed throughout the city for the supply of water: whether likewise any of these reservoirs give any signs of being affected in an opposite manner to the tides, we know not. If such be the case, the causes thereof should be received as amongst phenomena hard to be explained. It is likely that Polybius may have assigned the proper reason; but it is also likely that certain of the channels of the springs being damped outside become relaxed, and so let the water run out into the surrounding land, instead of forcing it along its ancient passage to the spring; and there will of course be moisture when the tide overflows.1293 But if, as Athenodorus asserts, the ebb and flow resemble the inspiration and expiration of the breath, it is possible that some of the currents of water which naturally have an efflux on to the surface of the earth, through various channels, the mouths of which we denominate springs and fountains, are by other channels drawn towards the depths of the sea, and raise it, so as to produce a flood-tide; when the expiration is sufficient, they leave off the course in which they are then flowing, and again revert to their former direction, when that again takes a change.1294

8. I cannot tell how it is that Posidonius, who describes the Phœnicians as sagacious in other things, should here attribute [Pg 260]
[CAS. 173]
to them folly rather than shrewdness. The sun completes his revolution in the space of a day and night, being a portion of the time beneath the earth, and a portion of the time shining upon it. Now he asserts that the motion of the sea corresponds with the revolution of the heavenly bodies, and experiences a diurnal, monthly, and annual change, in strict accordance with the changes of the moon. For [he continues] when the moon is elevated one sign of the zodiac1295 above the horizon, the sea begins sensibly to swell and cover the shores, until she has attained her meridian; but when that satellite begins to decline, the sea again retires by degrees, until the moon wants merely one sign of the zodiac from setting; it then remains stationary until the moon has set, and also descended one sign of the zodiac below the horizon, when it again rises until she has attained her meridian below the earth; it then retires again until the moon is within one sign of the zodiac of her rising above the horizon, when it remains stationary until the moon has risen one sign of the zodiac above the earth, and then begins to rise as before. Such he describes to be the diurnal revolution. In respect to the monthly revolution, [he says] that the spring-tides occur at the time of the new moon, when they decrease until the first quarter; they then increase until full moon, when they again decrease until the last quarter, after which they increase till the new moon; [he adds] that these increases ought to be understood both of their duration and speed. In regard to the annual revolution, he says that he learned from the statements of the Gaditanians, that both the ebb and flow tides were at their extremes at the summer solstice: and that hence he conjectured that they decreased until the [autumnal] equinox; then increased till the winter solstice; then decreased again until the vernal equinox; and [finally] increased until the summer solstice. But since these revolutions occur twice in the four-and-twenty hours, the sea rising twice and receding twice, and that regularly every day and night, how is it that the filling and failing of the well do not frequently occur during the ebb and flow of the tide? or if it be allowed that this does often occur, why does it not do so in the same proportion? and if it does so in the same proportion, how comes it that the Gaditanians are not [Pg 261] competent to observe what is of daily occurrence, while they are nevertheless competent to the observing of revolutions which occur but once in the year. That Posidonius himself credited these reports is evident from his own conjecture respecting the decrease and increase [of the sea] from solstice to solstice. However, it is not likely, being an observant people, that they should be ignorant of what actually occurred, whilst giving credit to imaginary phenomena.

9. Posidonius tells us that Seleucus, a native of the country next the Erythræan Sea,1296 states that the regularity and irregularity of the ebb and flow of the sea follow the different positions of the moon in the zodiac; that when she is in the equinoctial signs the tides are regular, but that when she is in the signs next the tropics, the tides are irregular both in their height and force; and that for the remaining signs the irregularity is greater or less, according as they are more or less removed from the signs before mentioned. Posidonius adds, that during the summer solstice and whilst the moon was full, he himself passed many days in the temple of Hercules at Gades, but could not observe any thing of these annual irregularities. However, about the new moon of the same month he observed at Ilipa1297 a great change in the reflux of the water of the Guadalquiver, as compared with previous flood-tides, in which the water did not rise half as high as the banks, and that then the water poured in so copiously, that the soldiers there dipped their supply without difficulty, although Ilipa is about 700 stadia from the sea. He says, that the plains next the sea were covered by the tides to a distance of 301298 stadia, and to such a depth as to form islands, while the basement of the temple in the enclosure dedicated to Hercules, and the top of the mole in front of the harbour of Gades, were not covered higher than 10 cubits, as observed by actual soundings; but if any one should add the double of that for the occasional risings of the tide which occur, [neither] thus would he be able to estimate the violence with which the full force of the high tide rushes over the plains. Posidonius informs us that this violence [of the tide] is common to all the coasts of Spain on the Atlantic,1299 but what he [Pg 262]
[CAS. 175]
relates concerning the Ebro is unusual and peculiar to itself, for he says that it sometimes overflows after continued north winds, although there may have been neither rains nor snows. The cause of this [he supposes] to be the lake through which the Ebro flows, its waters being driven by the winds into the current of the river.1300

10. The same writer mentions a tree at Gades, which had boughs reaching to the ground; its sword-shaped leaves often measuring a cubit long, and four fingers broad. Also that about Carthagena there was a tree whose thorns produced a bark from which most beautiful stuffs were woven. As for the tree [he saw] at Gades, we ourselves have observed a similar in Egypt, so far as the inclination of the boughs is concerned, but with a differently shaped leaf, and producing no fruit, which according to him the other did. In Cappadocia there are stuffs made from thorns, but it is not a tree which produces the thorn from which the bark is taken, but a low plant; he also tells us of a tree at Gades, from which if a branch be broken off a milk will flow, and if the root be cut a red fluid runs. Thus much for Gades.

11. The Cassiterides are ten in number, and lie near each other in the ocean towards the north from the haven of the Artabri. One of them is desert, but the others are inhabited by men in black cloaks, clad in tunics reaching to the feet, girt about the breast, and walking with staves, thus resembling the Furies we see in tragic representations.1301 They subsist by their cattle, leading for the most part a wandering life. Of the metals they have tin and lead; which with skins they barter with the merchants for earthenware, salt, and brazen vessels. Formerly the Phœnicians alone carried on this traffic from Gades, concealing the passage from every one; and when the Romans followed a certain [Pg 263] ship-master, that they also might find the market, the ship-master of jealousy purposely ran his vessel upon a shoal, leading on those who followed him into the same destructive disaster; he himself escaped by means of a fragment of the ship, and received from the state the value of the cargo he had lost. The Romans nevertheless by frequent efforts discovered the passage, and as soon as Publius Crassus, passing over to them, perceived that the metals were dug out at a little depth, and that the men were peaceably disposed, he declared it to those who already wished to traffic in this sea for profit, although the passage was longer than that to Britain.1302 Thus far concerning Iberia and the adjacent islands.

[Pg 264]




The Fourth Book contains a description of the regions about Gaul, Spain, and the Alps on this side, towards Italy. Likewise of Britain, and of certain islands in the ocean which are habitable, together with the country of the barbarians, and the nations dwelling beyond the Danube.


1. Next in order [after Iberia] comes Keltica beyond the Alps,1303 the configuration and size of which has been already mentioned in a general manner; we are now to describe it more particularly. Some divide it into the three nations of the Aquitani, Belgæ, and Keltæ.1304 Of these the Aquitani differ completely from the other nations, not only in their language but in their figure, which resembles more that of the Iberians than the Galatæ. The others are Galatæ in countenance, although they do not all speak the same language, but some make a slight difference in their speech; neither is their polity and mode of life exactly the same. These writers give the name of Aquitani and Keltæ to the dwellers near the Pyrenees, which are bounded by the Cevennes. For it has been stated that this Keltica is bounded on the west by the mountains of the Pyrenees, which extend to either sea, both the Mediterranean and the ocean; on the east by the Rhine, which is parallel to the Pyrenees; on the north by the ocean, from the northern extremities of the Pyrenees to the mouths [Pg 265] of the Rhine; on the south by the sea of Marseilles, and Narbonne, and by the Alps from Liguria to the sources of the Rhine. The Cevennes lie at right angles to the Pyrenees, and traverse the plains for about 2000 stadia, terminating in the middle near Lugdunum.1305 They call those people Aquitani who inhabit the northern portions of the Pyrenees, and the Cevennes extending as far as the ocean, and bounded by the river Garonne; and Keltæ, those who dwell on the other side of the Garonne, towards the sea of Marseilles and Narbonne, and touching a portion of the Alpine chain. This is the division adopted by divus Cæsar in his Commentaries.1306 But Augustus Cæsar, when dividing the country into four parts, united the Keltæ to the Narbonnaise; the Aquitani he preserved the same as Julius Cæsar, but added thereto fourteen other nations of those who dwelt between the Garonne and the river Loire,1307 and dividing the rest into two parts, the one extending to the upper districts of the Rhine he made dependent upon Lugdunum, the other [he assigned] [Pg 266]
[CAS. 177]
to the Belgæ. However, it is the duty of the Geographer to describe the physical divisions of each country, and those which result from diversity of nations, when they seem worthy of notice; as to the limits which princes, induced by a policy which circumstances dictate, have variously imposed, it will be sufficient for him to notice them summarily, leaving others to furnish particular details.

2. The whole of this country is irrigated by rivers descending from the Alps, the Cevennes, and the Pyrenees, some of which discharge themselves into the ocean, others into the Mediterranean. The districts through which they flow are mostly plains interspersed with hills, and having navigable streams. The course of these rivers is so happily disposed in relation to each other, that you may traffic from one sea to the other,1308 carrying the merchandise only a small distance, and that easily, across the plains; but for the most part by the rivers, ascending some, and descending others. The Rhone is pre-eminent in this respect, both because it communicates with many other rivers, and also because it flows into the Mediterranean, which, as we have said, is superior to the ocean,1309 and likewise passes through the richest provinces of Gaul. The whole of the Narbonnaise produces the same fruits as Italy. As we advance towards the north, and the mountains of the Cevennes, the plantations of the olive and fig disappear, but the others remain. Likewise the vine, as you proceed northward, does not easily mature its fruit. The entire of the remaining country produces in abundance corn, millet, acorns, and mast of all kinds. No part of it lies waste except that which is taken up in marshes and woods, and even this is inhabited. The cause of this, however, is rather a dense population than the industry of the inhabitants. For the women there are both very prolific and excellent nurses, while the men devote themselves rather to war than husbandry. However, their arms being now laid aside, they are compelled to engage in agriculture. These remarks apply generally to the whole of Transalpine Keltica. We must now describe particularly each of the four divisions, [Pg 267] which hitherto we have only mentioned in a summary manner. And, first, of the Narbonnaise.

3. The configuration of this country resembles a parallelogram, the western side of which is traced by the Pyrenees, the north by the Cevennes; as for the other two sides, the south is bounded by the sea between the Pyrenees and Marseilles, and the east partly by the Alps,1310 and partly by a line drawn perpendicularly from these mountains to the foot of the Cevennes, which extend towards the Rhone, and form a right angle with the aforesaid perpendicular drawn from the Alps. To the southern side of this parallelogram we must add the sea-coast inhabited by the Massilienses1311 and Salyes,1312 as far as the country of the Ligurians, the confines of Italy, and the river Var. This river, as we have said before,1313 is the boundary of the Narbonnaise and Italy. It is but small in summer, but in winter swells to a breadth of seven stadia. From thence the coast extends to the temple of the Pyrenæan Venus,1314 which is the boundary between this province and Iberia. Some, however, assert that the spot where the Trophies of Pompey stand is the boundary between Iberia and Keltica. From thence to Narbonne is 63 miles; from Narbonne to Nemausus,1315 88; from Nemausus through Ugernum1316 and Tarusco, to the hot waters called Sextiæ1317 near Marseilles, 53;1318 from thence to Antipolis and the river Var, 73; making in the total 277 miles. Some set down the distance from the temple of Venus to the Var at 2600 stadia; while others increase this number by 200 stadia; for there are different opinions as to these distances. As for the other road, which traverses the [countries [Pg 268]
[CAS. 179]
of the] Vocontii1319 and Cottius,1320 from Nemausus1321 to Ugernum and Tarusco, the route is common; from thence [it branches off in two directions], one through Druentia and Caballio,1322 to the frontiers of the Vocontii and the commencement of the ascent of the Alps, which is 63 miles; the other is reckoned at 99 miles from the same point to the other extremity of the Vocontii, bordering on the state of Cottius, as far as the village of Ebrodunum.1323 The distance is said to be the same by the route through the village of Brigantium,1324 Scingomagus,1325 and the passage of the Alps to Ocelum,1326 which is the limit of the country of Cottius. However, it is considered to be Italy from Scingomagus. And Ocelum is 28 miles beyond this.

4. Marseilles, founded by the Phocæans,1327 is built in a stony region. Its harbour lies beneath a rock, which is shaped like a theatre, and looks towards the south. It is well surrounded with walls, as well as the whole city, which is of considerable size. Within the citadel are placed the Ephesium and the temple of the Delphian Apollo. This latter temple is common to all the Ionians; the Ephesium is the temple consecrated to Diana of Ephesus. They say that when the Phocæans were about to quit their country, an oracle commanded them to take from Diana of Ephesus a conductor for their voyage. On arriving at Ephesus they therefore inquired how they might be able to obtain from the goddess what was enjoined them. The goddess appeared in a dream to Aristarcha, one of the most honourable women of the city, and commanded her to accompany the Phocæans, and to take with her a plan of the temple and statues.1328 These things being performed, and the colony being settled, the Phocæans [Pg 269] built a temple, and evinced their great respect for Aristarcha by making her priestess. All the colonies [sent out from Marseilles] hold this goddess in peculiar reverence, preserving both the shape of the image [of the goddess], and also every rite observed in the metropolis.

5. The Massilians live under a well-regulated aristocracy. They have a council composed of 600 persons called timuchi,1329 who enjoy this dignity for life. Fifteen of these preside over the council, and have the management of current affairs; these fifteen are in their turn presided over by three of their number, in whom rests the principal authority; and these again by one. No one can become a timuchus who has not children, and who has not been a citizen for three generations.1330 Their laws, which are the same as those of the Ionians, they expound in public. Their country abounds in olives and vines, but on account of its ruggedness the wheat is poor. Consequently they trust more to the resources of the sea than of the land, and avail themselves in preference of their excellent position for commerce. Nevertheless they have been enabled by the power of perseverance to take in some of the surrounding plains, and also to found cities: of this number are the cities they founded in Iberia as a rampart against the Iberians, in which they introduced the worship of Diana of Ephesus, as practised in their fatherland, with the Grecian mode of sacrifice. In this number too are Rhoa1331 [and] Agatha,1332 [built for defence] against the barbarians dwelling around the river Rhone; also Tauroentium,1333 Olbia,1334 Antipolis1335 and Nicæa,1336 [built as a rampart] against the nation of the Salyes and the Ligurians who inhabit the Alps. They1337 possess likewise dry docks and armouries. Formerly they had an abundance of vessels, arms, and machines, both for the purposes of navigation and for besieging towns; by means of which they defended themselves against the barbarians, [Pg 270]
[CAS. 180]
and likewise obtained the alliance of the Romans, to whom they rendered many important services; the Romans in their turn assisting in their aggrandizement. Sextius, who defeated the Salyes, founded, not far from Marseilles, a city1338 which was named after him and the hot waters, some of which they say have lost their heat.1339 Here he established a Roman garrison, and drove from the sea-coast which leads from Marseilles to Italy the barbarians, whom the Massilians were not able to keep back entirely. However, all he accomplished by this was to compel the barbarians to keep at a distance of twelve stadia from those parts of the coast which possessed good harbours, and at a distance of eight stadia where it was rugged. The land which they thus abandoned, he presented to the Massilians. In their city are laid up heaps of booty taken in naval engagements against those who disputed the sea unjustly. Formerly they enjoyed singular good fortune, as well in other matters as also in their amity with the Romans. Of this [amity] we find numerous signs, amongst others the statue of Diana which the Romans dedicated on the Aventine mount, of the same figure as that of the Massilians. Their prosperity has in a great measure decayed since the war of Pompey against Cæsar, in which they sided with the vanquished party. Nevertheless some traces of their ancient industry may still be seen amongst the inhabitants, especially the making of engines of war and ship-building. Still as the surrounding barbarians, now that they are under the dominion of the Romans, become daily more civilized, and leave the occupation of war for the business of towns and agriculture, there is no longer the same attention paid by the inhabitants of Marseilles to these objects. The aspect of the city at the present day is a proof of this. For all those who profess to be men of taste, turn to the study of elocution and philosophy. Thus this city for some little time back has become a school for the barbarians, and has communicated to the Galatæ such a taste for [Pg 271] Greek literature, that they even draw contracts on the Grecian model. While at the present day it so entices the noblest of the Romans, that those desirous of studying resort thither in preference to Athens. These the Galatæ observing, and being at leisure on account of the peace, readily devote themselves to similar pursuits, and that not merely individuals, but the public generally; professors of the arts and sciences, and likewise of medicine, being employed not only by private persons, but by towns for common instruction. Of the wisdom of the Massilians and the simplicity of their life, the following will not be thought an insignificant proof. The largest dowry amongst them consists of one hundred gold pieces, with five for dress, and five more for golden ornaments. More than this is not lawful. Cæsar and his successors treated with moderation the offences of which they were guilty during the war, in consideration of their former friendship; and have preserved to the state the right of governing according to its ancient laws. So that neither Marseilles nor the cities dependent on it are under submission to the governors sent [into the Narbonnaise]. So much for Marseilles.

6. The mountains of the Salyes incline gently from west to north in proportion as they retire from the sea. The coast runs west, and extending a short distance, about 100 stadia, from Marseilles, it begins to assume the character of a gulf at a considerable promontory near to certain stone quarries, and extending to the Aphrodisium, the headland which terminates the Pyrenees,1340 forms the Galatic Gulf,1341 which is also called the Gulf of Marseilles: it is double, for in its circuit Mount Setium1342 stands out together with the island of Blascon,1343 which is situated close to it, and separates the two gulfs. The larger of these is properly designated the Galatic Gulf, into which the Rhone discharges itself; the smaller is on the coast of Narbonne, and extends as far as the Pyrenees. Narbonne is situated above the [Pg 272]
[CAS. 181]
outlets of the Aude1344 and the lake of Narbonne.1345 It is the principal commercial city on this coast. On the Rhone is Arelate,1346 a city and emporium of considerable traffic. The distance between these two cities is nearly equal to that which separates them from the aforesaid promontories, namely, Narbonne from the Aphrodisium, and Arelate from the cape of Marseilles. There are other rivers besides which flow on either side of Narbonne, some from the Cevennes, others from the Pyrenees. Along these rivers are situated cities having but little commerce, and that in small vessels. The rivers which proceed from the Pyrenees, are the Tet1347 and the Tech;1348 two cities1349 are built on them, which bear respectively the same name as the rivers. There is a lake near to Ruscino,1350 and a little above the sea a marshy district full of salt-springs, which supplies “dug mullets,” for whoever digs two or three feet and plunges a trident into the muddy water, will be sure to take the fish, which are worthy of consideration on account of their size; they are nourished in the mud like eels. Such are the rivers which flow from the Pyrenees between Narbonne and the promontory on which is built the temple of Venus. On the other side of Narbonne the following rivers descend from the Cevennes into the sea. The Aude,1351 the Orbe,1352 and the Rauraris.1353 On one of these1354 is situated the strong city of Bætera,1355 near to Narbonne; on the other Agatha,1356 founded by the people of Marseilles.

7. Of one marvel of this sea-coast, namely the “dug mullets,” we have already spoken; we will now mention another, even more surprising. Between Marseilles and the outlets of the Rhone there is a circular plain, about 100 stadia distant [Pg 273] from the sea, and about 100 stadia in diameter. It has received the name of the Stony Plain, from the circumstance of its being covered with stones the size of the fist, from beneath which an abundant herbage springs up for the pasturage of cattle. In the midst of it are water, salt-springs, and salt. The whole both of this district and that above it is exposed to the wind, but in this plain the black north,1357 a violent and horrible wind, rages especially: for they say that sometimes the stones are swept and rolled along, and men hurled from their carriages and stripped both of their arms and garments by the force of the tempest. Aristotle tells us that these stones being cast up by the earthquakes designated brastai,1358 and falling on the surface of the earth, roll into the hollow places of the districts; but Posidonius, that the place was formerly a lake, which being congealed during a violent agitation, became divided into numerous stones, like river pebbles or the stones by the sea-shore, which they resemble both as to smoothness, size, and appearance. Such are the causes assigned by these two [writers]; however, neither of their opinions is credible,1359 for these stones could neither have thus accumulated of themselves, nor yet have been formed by congealed moisture, but necessarily from the fragments of large stones shattered by frequent convulsions. Æschylus having, however, learnt of the difficulty of accounting for it, or having been so informed by another, has explained it away as a myth. He makes Prometheus utter the following, whilst directing Hercules the road from the Caucasus to the Hesperides:

“There you will come to the undaunted army of the Ligurians, where, resistless though you be, sure am I you will not worst them in battle; for it is fated that there your darts shall fail you; nor will you be able to take up a stone from the ground, since the country consists of soft mould; but Jupiter, beholding your distress, will compassionate you, and overshadowing the earth with a cloud, he will cause it to hail round stones, which you hurling against the Ligurian army, will soon put them to flight!”1360

Posidonius asks, would it not have been better to have [Pg 274]
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rained down these stones upon the Ligurians themselves, and thus have destroyed them all, than to make Hercules in need of so many stones? As for the number, they were necessary against so vast a multitude; so that in this respect the writer of the myth seems to me deserving of more credit than he who would refute it. Further, the poet, in describing it as fated, secures himself against such fault-finding. For if you dispute Providence and Destiny, you can find many similar things both in human affairs and nature, that you would suppose might be much better performed in this or that way; as for instance, that Egypt should have plenty of rain of its own, without being irrigated from the land of Ethiopia. That it would have been much better if Paris had suffered shipwreck on his voyage to Sparta, instead of expiating his offences after having carried off Helen, and having been the cause of so great destruction both amongst the Greeks and Barbarians. Euripides attributes this to Jupiter:

“Father Jupiter, willing evil to the Trojans and suffering to the Greeks, decreed such things.”

8. As to the mouths of the Rhone, Polybius asserts that there are but two, and blames Timæus1361 for saying five. Artemidorus says that there are three. Afterwards Marius, observing that the mouth was becoming stopped up and difficult of entrance on account of the deposits of mud, caused a new channel to be dug, which received the greater part of the river into it.1362 This he gave to the people of Marseilles in recompense for their services in the war against the Ambrones and Toygeni.1363 This canal became to them a source of much revenue, as they levied a toll from all those who sailed up or down it: notwithstanding, the entrance [to the river] still continues difficult to navigate, on account of its great impetuosity, its deposits, and the [general] flatness of the country, so that in foul weather you cannot clearly discern the land [Pg 275] even when quite close. On this account the people of Marseilles, who wished by all means to inhabit the country, set up towers as beacons; they have even erected a temple to Diana of Ephesus on a piece of the land, which the mouths of the rivers have formed into an island. Above the outlets of the Rhone is a salt-lake which they call Stomalimnè.1364 It abounds in shell and other fish. There are some who enumerate this amongst the mouths of the Rhone, especially those who say that it has seven1365 mouths. But in this they are quite mistaken; for there is a mountain between, which separates the lake from the river. Such then is the disposition and extent of the coast from the Pyrenees to Marseilles.

9. The [coast] which extends from this [last city] to the river Var, and the Ligurians who dwell near it, contains the Massilian cities of Tauroentium,1366 Olbia,1367 Antipolis,1368 Nicæa,1369 and the sea-port of Augustus Cæsar, called Forum Julium,1370 which is situated between Olbia and Antipolis, and distant from Marseilles about 600 stadia. The Var is between Antipolis and Nicæa; distant from the one about 20 stadia, from the other about 60; so that according to the boundary now marked Nicæa belongs to Italy, although it is a city of the people of Marseilles, for they built these cities [as a defence] against the barbarians who dwelt higher up the country, in order to maintain the sea free, as the barbarians possessed the land. For this [region] is mountainous and fortified by nature, leaving however a considerable extent of plain country near Marseilles; but as you proceed towards the east the country is so hemmed in by the mountains, as scarcely to leave a sufficient road for passage by the sea-shore. The former districts are inhabited by the Salyes,1371 the latter by the Ligurians, who border on Italy, of whom we shall speak afterwards. It should here be mentioned, that although Antipolis is situated in the Narbonnaise, and Nicæa in Italy, this latter is dependent on Marseilles, and forms part of that province; while [Pg 276]
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Antipolis is ranked amongst the Italian cities, and freed from the government of the Marseillese by a judgment given against them.

10. Lying off this narrow pass along the coast, as you commence your journey from Marseilles, are the Stœchades islands.1372 Three of these are considerable, and two small. They are cultivated by the people of Marseilles. Anciently they contained a garrison, placed here to defend them from the attacks of pirates, for they have good ports. After the Stœchades come [the islands of] Planasia1373 and Lero,1374 both of them inhabited. In Lero, which lies opposite to Antipolis, is a temple erected to the hero Lero. There are other small islands not worth mentioning, some of them before Marseilles, others before the rest of the coast which I have been describing. As to the harbours, those of the sea-port [of Forum-Julium]1375 and Marseilles are considerable, the others are but middling. Of this latter class is the port Oxybius,1376 so named from the Oxybian Ligurians.—This concludes what we have to say of this coast.

11. The country above this is bounded principally by the surrounding mountains and rivers. Of these the Rhone is the most remarkable, being both the largest, and capable of being navigated farther than any of the others, and also receiving into it a greater number of tributaries; of these we must speak in order. Commencing at Marseilles, and proceeding to the country between the Alps and the Rhone, to the river Durance, dwell the Salyes for a space of 500 stadia. From thence you proceed in a ferry-boat to the city of Caballio;1377 beyond this the whole country belongs to the Cavari as far as the junction of the Isère with the Rhone; it is here too that the Cevennes approach the Rhone. From the Durance to this point is a distance of 700 stadia.1378 The Salyes occupy the plains and mountains above these. The Vocontii, Tricorii, Iconii, and Medylli, lie above the Cavari.1379 Between the Durance and the Isère there are other rivers which flow [Pg 277] from the Alps into the Rhone; two of these, after having flowed round the city of the Cavari, discharge themselves by a common outlet into the Rhone. The Sulgas,1380 which is the third, mixes with the Rhone near the city of Vindalum,1381 where Cnæus Ænobarbus in a decisive engagement routed many myriads of the Kelts. Between these are the cities of Avenio,1382 Arausio,1383 and Aëria,1384 which latter, remarks Artemidorus, is rightly named aërial, being situated in a very lofty position. The whole of this country consists of plains abounding in pasturage, excepting on the route from Aëria to Avenio, where there are narrow defiles and woods to traverse. It was at the point where the river Isère and the Rhone unite near the Cevennes, that Quintus Fabius Maximus Æmilianus,1385 with scarcely 30,000 men, cut to pieces 200,000 Kelts.1386 Here he erected a white stone as a trophy, and two temples, one to Mars, and the other to Hercules. From the Isère to Vienne, the metropolis of the Allobroges, situated on the Rhone, the distance is 320 stadia. Lugdunum1387 is a little above Vienne at the confluence of the Saone1388 and the Rhone. The distance by land [from this latter city] to Lugdunum, passing through the country of the Allobroges, is about 200 stadia, and rather more by water. Formerly the Allobroges engaged in war, their armies consisting of many myriads; they now occupy themselves in cultivating the plains and valleys of the Alps. They dwell generally in villages, the most notable of them inhabiting Vienne, which was merely a village, although called the metropolis of their nation; they have now improved and embellished it as a city; it is situated on the Rhone. So full and rapid is the descent of this river from the Alps, that the flow of its waters through Lake Leman may be distinguished for many stadia. Having descended into the plains of the countries of the Allobroges, and Segusii, it falls into the Saone, near to Lugdunum, a city of the Segusii.1389 The [Pg 278]
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Saone rises in the Alps,1390 and separates the Sequani, the Ædui, and the Lincasii.1391 It afterwards receives the Doubs, a navigable river which rises in the same mountains,1392 still however preserving its own name, and consisting of the two, mingles with the Rhone. The Rhone in like manner preserves its name, and flows on to Vienne. At their rise these three rivers flow towards the north, then in a westerly direction, afterwards uniting into one they take another turn and flow towards the south, and having received other rivers, they flow in this direction to the sea. Such is the country situated between the Alps and the Rhone.

12. The main part of the country on the other side of the Rhone is inhabited by the Volcæ, surnamed Arecomisci. Their naval station is Narbonne, which may justly be called the emporium of all Gaul, as it far surpasses every other in the multitude of those who resort1393 to it. The Volcæ border on the Rhone, the Salyes and Cavari being opposite to them on the other side of the river. However, the name of the Cavari has so obtained, that all the barbarians inhabiting near now go by that designation; nay, even those who are no longer barbarians, but follow the Roman customs, both in their speech and mode of life, and some of those even who have adopted the Roman polity. Between the Arecomisci and the Pyrenees there are some other small and insignificant nations. Nemausus1394 is the metropolis of the Arecomisci; though far inferior to Narbonne both as to its commerce, and the number of foreigners attracted thither, it surpasses that city in the number of its citizens; for it has under its dominion four and twenty different villages all well inhabited, and by the same people, who pay tribute; it likewise enjoys the rights of the Latin towns, so that in Nemausus you meet with Roman citizens who have obtained the honours of the ædile and quæstorship, wherefore this nation is not subject to the orders issued by the prætors from Rome. The city is situated on [Pg 279] the road from Iberia to Italy; this road is very good in the summer, but muddy and overflowed by the rivers during winter and spring. Some of these streams are crossed in ferry-boats, and others by means of bridges constructed either of wood or stone. The inundations which destroy the roads are caused by the winter torrents, which sometimes pour down from the Alps even in summer-time after the melting of the snows. To perform the route before mentioned, the shortest way is, as we have said, across the territory of the Vocontii direct to the Alps; the other, along the coast of Marseilles and Liguria, is longer, although it offers an easier passage into Italy, as the mountains are lower. Nemausus is about 100 stadia distant from the Rhone, situated opposite to the small town of Tarascon, and about 720 stadia from Narbonne. The Tectosages,1395 and certain others whom we shall mention afterwards, border on the range of the Cevennes, and inhabit its southern side as far as the promontory of the Volcæ. Respecting all the others we will speak hereafter.

13. But the Tectosages dwell near to the Pyrenees, bordering for a small space the northern side of the Cevennes;1396 the land they inhabit is rich in gold. It appears that formerly they were so powerful and numerous, that dissensions having arisen amongst them, they drove a vast multitude of their number from their homes; and that these men associating with others of different nations took possession of Phrygia, next to Cappadocia, and the Paphlagonians. Of this those who are now called the Tectosages afford us proof, for [Phrygia contains] three nations, one of them dwelling near to the city of Ancyra,1397 being called the Tectosages; the remaining two, the Trocmi and Tolistobogii.1398 The resemblance these nations bear to the Tectosages is evidence of their having immigrated from Keltica, though we are unable to say from which district they came, as there does not appear to be any people at the present time bearing the name of Trocmi or Tolistobogii, who inhabit [Pg 280]
[CAS. 188]
either beyond the Alps, the Alps themselves, or on this side the Alps. It would seem that continual emigration has drained them completely from their native country, a circumstance which has occurred to many other nations, as some say that the Brennus, who led an expedition to Delphi,1399 was a leader of the Prausi; but we are unable to say where the Prausi formerly inhabited. It is said that the Tectosages took part in the expedition to Delphi, and that the treasures found in the city of Toulouse by the Roman general Cæpio formed a portion of the booty gained there, which was afterwards increased by offerings which the citizens made from their own property, and consecrated in order to conciliate the god.1400 And that it was for daring to touch these that Cæpio terminated so miserably his existence, being driven from his country as a plunderer of the temples of the gods, and leaving behind him his daughters, who, as Timagenes informs us, having been wickedly violated, perished miserably. However, the account given by Posidonius is the more credible. He tells us that the wealth found in Toulouse amounted to somewhere about 15,000 talents, a part of which was hidden in the chapels, and the remainder in the sacred lakes, and that it was not coined [money], but gold and silver in bullion. But at this time the temple of Delphi was emptied of these treasures, having been pillaged by the Phocæans at the period of the Sacred war; and supposing any to have been left, it would have been distributed amongst many. Nor is it probable that the Tectosages returned home, since they came off miserably after leaving Delphi, and owing to their dissensions were scattered here and there throughout the country; there is much more likelihood in the statement made by Posidonius and many others, that the country abounding in gold, and the inhabitants being superstitious, and not living expensively, they hid their treasures in many different places, the lakes in particular affording them a hiding-place for depositing their gold and silver bullion. When the Romans obtained possession of the country they put up these lakes to public sale, and many of the purchasers found therein [Pg 281] solid masses of silver. In Toulouse there was a sacred temple, held in great reverence by the inhabitants of the surrounding country, and on this account loaded with riches, inasmuch as there were many who offered gifts, and no one dared to touch them.

14. Toulouse is situated upon the narrowest part of the isthmus which separates the ocean from the sea of Narbonne; the breadth of the [isthmus], according to Posidonius, being less than 3000 stadia. The perfect similarity maintained throughout this country both in respect to its rivers, and to the exterior and interior sea,1401 appears to us worthy of especial notice, as we have said before. This, on reflection, will prove to be one main cause of the excellence of this country, since the inhabitants are enabled mutually to communicate, and to procure from each other the necessaries of life; this is peculiarly the case at the present time, when on account of their leisure from war they are devoting themselves to agriculture and the pursuits of social life. In this we are persuaded that we behold the work of Providence; such a disposition of these regions not resulting from chance, but from the thought of some [intelligence]. The Rhone, for instance, is navigable to a considerable distance for vessels of heavy burden, which it is capable of transmitting through various districts of the country by means of other rivers which fall into it, and are likewise fitted for the navigation of large vessels. To the Rhone succeeds the Saone,1402 and into this latter river falls the Doubs; thence the merchandise is carried by land to the river Seine; whence it is transported to the ocean and the [countries of the] Lexovii and Caleti,1403 the distance thence to Britain being less than a day’s journey. The navigation of the Rhone being difficult on account of the rapidity of its current, the merchants prefer to transport in waggons certain of their wares, which are destined for the Arverni,1404 and the river Loire,1405 notwithstanding the vicinity of the Rhone in some places, but the road being level and the distance not far, (about 800 stadia,) they do not make use of water carriage on account of the [Pg 282]
[CAS. 189]
facility of the transport by land, from thence the merchandise is easily conveyed by the Loire. This river flows from the Cevennes into the ocean. From Narbonne the voyage to the Aude1406 is short, but the journey by land to the river Garonne longer, being as much as 700 or 800 stadia. The Garonne likewise flows into the ocean. Such is what we have to say concerning the inhabitants of the Narbonnaise, who were formerly named Kelts. In my opinion the celebrity of the Kelts induced the Grecians to confer that name on the whole of the Galatæ; the vicinity of the Massilians may also have had something to do with it.1407


1. We must now speak of the Aquitani and the fourteen Galatic nations pertaining to them, situated between the Garonne and the Loire, some of which extend to the river Rhone and the plains of the Narbonnaise. Generally speaking, the Aquitani may be said to differ from the Galatic race, both as to form of body and language, resembling more nearly the Iberians. They are bounded by the Garonne, and dwell between this river and the Pyrenees. There are above twenty nations which bear the name of Aquitani, small and obscure, the major part of them dwelling by the ocean, and the remainder in the interior and by the extremities of the Cevennes, as far as the Tectosages. This district, however, being too small, they added to it the territory between the Garonne and the Loire. These rivers are nearly parallel with the Pyrenees, and form with them two parallelograms, bounded on the remaining sides by the ocean and the mountains of the Cevennes.1408 Both of these rivers are navigable for a distance [Pg 283] of about 2000 stadia.1409 The Garonne, after being augmented by three other rivers,1410 discharges itself into the [ocean] between the [country] of the Bituriges, surnamed the Vivisci,1411 and that of the Santoni;1412 both of them Gallic nations.

The Bituriges are the only foreign people who dwell among the Aquitani without forming a part of them. Their emporium is Burdegala,1413 situated on a creek formed by the outlets of the river. The Loire discharges itself between the Pictones and the Namnetæ.1414 Formerly there was an emporium on this river named Corbilon, mentioned by Polybius when speaking of the fictions of Pytheas. “The Marseillese, [says he,] when interrogated by Scipio1415 at their meeting, had nothing to tell about Britain worth mentioning, nor yet had the people of the Narbonnaise, nor those of Corbilon; notwithstanding these were the two principal cities of the district, Pytheas alone dared to forge so many lies [concerning that island].” Mediolanium1416 is the capital of the Santoni. The part of Aquitaine next the ocean is for the most part sandy and meagre, producing millet, but barren of all other fruits. Here is the gulf which, with that on the coast of Narbonne, forms the isthmus. Both these gulfs1417 go by the name of the Galatic gulf. The former gulf belongs to the Tarbelli.1418 These people possess the richest gold mines; masses of gold as big as the fist can contain, and requiring hardly any purifying, [Pg 284]
[CAS. 190]
being found in diggings scarcely beneath the surface of the earth, the remainder consisting of dust and lumps, which likewise require but little working. In the interior and mountainous parts [of Aquitaine] the soil is superior; for instance, in the district near the Pyrenees belonging to the Convenæ,1419 which name signifies people assembled from different countries to dwell in one place. Here is the city of Lugdunum,1420 and the hot springs of the Onesii,1421 which are most excellent for drinking. The country of the Auscii1422 likewise is fine.

2. The nations between the Garonne and the Loire annexed to the Aquitani, are the Elui,1423 who commence at the Rhone. After these the Vellæi,1424 who were formerly comprehended amongst the Arverni,1425 but now form a people to themselves. After these Arverni come the Lemovices,1426 and Petrocorii,1427 and after them the Nitiobriges,(1428) the Cadurci,(1428) and the Bituriges,(1428) surnamed Cubi. Along the ocean we meet with the Santoni, and Pictones,1428 the former dwelling by the Garonne, as we have stated, and the latter by the Loire. The Ruteni and the Gabales1429 are in the vicinity of the Narbonnaise. The Petrocorii and Bituriges-Cubi possess excellent iron-works, the Cadurci linen-factories, and the Ruteni silver-mines: the Gabales likewise possess silver-mines. On certain amongst the Aquitani the Romans have conferred the rights of Latin cities; such for instance as the Auscii, and the Convenæ.

3. The Arverni are situated along the Loire. Nemossus, their metropolis, is built on the same river.1430 This river having flowed past Genabum,1431 an emporium of the Carnutes,1432 situated about the middle of its course, discharges itself into the ocean. A great proof of the former power of the Arverni, is the fact of the frequent wars which they sustained against the Romans, [Pg 285] sometimes with armies of 200,000 men, and sometimes with double that number, which was the amount of their force when they fought against divus Cæsar under the command of Vercingetorix.1433 Before this they had brought 200,000 men against Maximus Æmilianus, and the same number against Domitius Ænobarbus. Their battles with Cæsar took place, one in Gergovia,1434 a city of the Arverni situated on a lofty mountain, the birth-place of Vercingetorix; the other, near to Alesia,1435 a city of the Mandubii, who border on the Arverni; this city is likewise situated on a high hill, surrounded by mountains, and between two rivers. Here the war was terminated by the capture of their leader. The battle with Maximus Æmilianus was fought near the confluence of the Isère and the Rhone, at the point where the mountains of the Cevennes approach the latter river. That with Domitius was fought lower down at the confluence of the Sulgas1436 and the Rhone. The Arverni extended their dominion as far as Narbonne and the borders of Marseilles, and exercised authority over the nations as far as the Pyrenees, the ocean, and the Rhine. Luerius,1437 the father of Bituitus who fought against Maximus and Domitius, is said to have been so distinguished by his riches and luxury, that to give a proof of his opulence to his friends, he caused himself to be dragged across a plain in a car, whilst he scattered gold and silver coin in every direction for those who followed him to gather up.


1. Next in order after Aquitaine and the Narbonnaise, is that portion [of Gaul] extending as far as the Rhine from [Pg 286]
[CAS. 191]
the river Loire, and the Rhone, where it passes by Lugdunum:1438 in its descent from its source. The upper regions of this district from the sources of the Rhine and Rhone, nearly to the middle of the plains, pertain to Lugdunum; the remainder, with the regions next the ocean, is comprised in another division which belongs to the Belgæ. We will describe the two together.

2. Lugdunum itself, situated on1439 a hill, at the confluence of the Saone1440 and the Rhone, belongs to the Romans. It is the most populous city after Narbonne. It carries on a great commerce, and the Roman prefects here coin both gold and silver money. Before this city, at the confluence of the rivers, is situated the temple dedicated by all the Galatæ in common to Cæsar Augustus. The altar is splendid, and has inscribed on it the names of sixty people, and images of them, one for each, and also another great altar.1441

This is the principal city of the nation of the Segusiani who lie between the Rhone and the Doubs.1442 The other nations who extend to the Rhine, are bounded in part by the Doubs, and in part by the Saone. These two rivers, as said before, descend from the Alps, and, falling into one stream, flow into the Rhone. There is likewise another river which has its sources in the Alps, and is named the Seine.1443 It flows parallel with the Rhine, through a nation bearing the same name as itself,1444 and so into the ocean. The Sequani are bounded on the east by the Rhine, and on the opposite side by the Saone. It is from them that the Romans procure the finest salted-pork. Between the Doubs and Saone dwells the nation of the Ædui, who possess the city of Cabyllinum,1445 situated on the Saone and the fortress of Bibracte.1446 The [Pg 287] Ædui1447 are said to be related to the Romans, and they were the first to enter into friendship and alliance with them. On the other side of the Saone dwell the Sequani, who have for long been at enmity with the Romans and Ædui, having frequently allied themselves with the Germans in their incursions into Italy. It was then that they proved their strength, for united to them the Germans were powerful, but when separated, weak. As for the Ædui, their alliance with the Romans naturally rendered them the enemies of the Sequani,1448 but the enmity was increased by their contests concerning the river which divides them, each nation claiming the Saone exclusively for themselves, and likewise the tolls on vessels passing. However, at the present time, the whole of it is under the dominion of the Romans.

3. The first of all the nations dwelling on the Rhine are the Helvetii, amongst whom are the sources of that river in Mount Adula,1449 which forms part of the Alps. From this mountain, but in an opposite direction, likewise proceeds the Adda, which flows towards Cisalpine Gaul, and fills lake Larius,1450 near to which stands [the city of] Como; thence it discharges itself into the Po, of which we shall speak afterwards. The Rhine also flows into vast marshes and a great lake,1451 which borders on the Rhæti and Vindelici,1452 who dwell partly in the Alps, and partly beyond the Alps. Asinius says that the length of this river is 6000 stadia, but such is not the case, for taken in a straight line it does not much exceed half that length, and 1000 stadia is quite sufficient to allow for its sinuosities. In fact this river is so rapid that it is difficult to throw bridges across it, although after its descent from the mountains it is borne the remainder of the way through level plains; now how could it maintain its rapidity and vehemence, if in addition to this level channel, we suppose it also to have long and frequent tortuosities? Asinius likewise [Pg 288]
[CAS. 193]
asserts that this river has two mouths, and blames those who say that it has more.1453 This river and the Seine embrace within their tortuosities a certain extent of country, which however is not considerable. They both flow from south to north. Britain lies opposite to them; but nearest to the Rhine, from which you may see Kent, which is the most easterly part of the island. The Seine is a little further. It was here that divus Cæsar established a dock-yard when he sailed to Britain. The navigable portion of the Seine, commencing from the point where they receive the merchandise from the Saone, is of greater extent than the [navigable portions] of the Loire and Garonne. From Lugdunum1454 to the Seine is [a distance of] 1000 stadia, and not twice this distance from the outlets of the Rhone to Lugdunum. They say that the Helvetii,1455 though rich in gold, nevertheless devoted themselves to pillage on beholding the wealth of the Cimbri,1456 [accumulated by that means;] and that two out of their three tribes perished entirely in their military expeditions. However, the multitude of descendants who sprang from this remainder was proved in their war with divus Cæsar, in which about 400,000 of their number were destroyed; the 8000 who survived the war, being spared by the conqueror, that their country might not be left desert, a prey to the neighbouring Germans.1457

4. After the Helvetii, the Sequani1458 and Mediomatrici1459 dwell along the Rhine, amongst whom are the Tribocchi,1460 a German nation who emigrated from their country hither. Mount Jura, which is in the country of the Sequani, separates that people from the Helvetii. To the west, above the Helvetii and Sequani, dwell the Ædui and Lingones; the Leuci and a part of the Lingones dwelling above the Mediomatrici. The nations between the Loire and the Seine, and beyond the Rhone and the Saone, are situated to the north near to the [Pg 289] Allobroges,1461 and the parts about Lyons. The most celebrated amongst them are the Arverni and Carnutes,1462 through both of whose territories the Loire flows before discharging itself into the ocean. The distance from the rivers of Keltica to Britain is 320 stadia; for departing in the evening with the ebb tide, you will arrive on the morrow at the island about the eighth hour.1463 After the Mediomatrici and Tribocchi, the Treviri1464 inhabit along the Rhine; in their country the Roman generals now engaged in the German war have constructed a bridge. Opposite this place on the other bank of the river dwelt the Ubii, whom Agrippa with their own consent brought over to this side the Rhine.1465 The Nervii,1466 another German nation, are contiguous to the Treviri; and last the Menapii, who inhabit either bank of the river near to its outlets; they dwell amongst marshes and forests, not lofty, but consisting of dense and thorny wood. Near to these dwell the Sicambri,1467 who are likewise Germans. The country next the whole [eastern] bank is inhabited by the Suevi, who are also named Germans, but are superior both in power and number to the others, whom they drove out, and who have now taken refuge on this side the Rhine. Other tribes have sway in different places; they are successively a prey to the flames of war, the former inhabitants for the most part being destroyed.

5. The Senones, the Remi, the Atrebates, and the Eburones dwell west of the Treviri and Nervii.1468 Close to the Menapii and near the sea are the Morini, the Bellovaci, the Ambiani, the Suessiones, and the Caleti, as far as the outlet [Pg 290]
[CAS. 194]
of the river Seine.1469 The countries of the Morini, the Atrebates, and the Eburones are similar to that of the Menapii. It consists of a forest filled with low trees; of great extent, but not near so large as writers have described it, viz. 4000 stadia.1470 It is named Arduenna.1471 In the event of warlike incursions the inhabitants would interweave the flexible brambly shrubs, thus stopping up the passages [into their country]. They also fixed stakes in various places, and then retreated with their whole families into the recesses of the forest, to small islands surrounded by marshes. During the rainy season these proved secure hiding-places, but in times of drought they were easily taken. However, at the present time all the nations on this side the Rhine1472 dwell in peace under the dominion of the Romans. The Parisii dwell along the river Seine, and inhabit an island formed by the river; their city is Lucotocia.1473 The Meldi and Lexovii border on the ocean. The most considerable, however, of all these nations are the Remi. Duricortora, their metropolis, is well populated, and is the residence of the Roman prefects.


1. After the nations mentioned come those of the Belgæ, who dwell next the ocean. Of their number are the Veneti,1474 who fought a naval battle with Cæsar. They had prepared to resist his passage into Britain, being possessed of the commerce [of that island] themselves. But Cæsar easily gained the victory, not however by means of his beaks, (for their [Pg 291] ships were constructed of solid wood,)1475 but whenever their ships were borne near to his by the wind, the Romans rent the sails by means of scythes fixed on long handles:1476 for the sails [of their ships] are made of leather to resist the violence of the winds, and managed by chains instead of cables. They construct their vessels with broad bottoms and high poops and prows, on account of the tides. They are built of the wood of the oak, of which there is abundance. On this account, instead of fitting the planks close together, they leave interstices between them; these they fill with sea-weed to prevent the wood from drying up in dock for want of moisture; for the sea-weed is damp by nature, but the oak dry and arid. In my opinion these Veneti were the founders of the Veneti in the Adriatic, for almost all the other Keltic nations in Italy have passed over from the country beyond the Alps, as for instance, the Boii1477 and Senones.1478 They are said to be Paphlagonians merely on account of a similarity of name. However, I do not maintain my opinion positively; for in these matters probability is quite sufficient. The Osismii are the people whom Pytheas calls Ostimii; they dwell on a promontory which projects considerably into the ocean, but not so far as Pytheas and those who follow him assert.1479 As for the nations between the Seine and the Loire, some are contiguous to the Sequani, others to the Arverni.

2. The entire race which now goes by the name of Gallic, or Galatic,1480 is warlike, passionate, and always ready for fighting, but otherwise simple and not malicious. If irritated, they rush in crowds to the conflict, openly and without any circumspection; and thus are easily vanquished by those who employ stratagem. For any one may exasperate them when, where, and under whatever pretext he pleases; he will [Pg 292]
[CAS. 196]
always find them ready for danger, with nothing to support them except their violence and daring. Nevertheless they may be easily persuaded to devote themselves to any thing useful, and have thus engaged both in science and letters. Their power consists both in the size of their bodies and also in their numbers. Their frankness and simplicity lead them easily to assemble in masses, each one feeling indignant at what appears injustice to his neighbour. At the present time indeed they are all at peace, being in subjection and living under the command of the Romans, who have subdued them; but we have described their customs as we understand they existed in former times, and as they still exist amongst the Germans. These two nations, both by nature and in their form of government, are similar and related to each other. Their countries border on each other, being separated by the river Rhine, and are for the most part similar. Germany, however, is more to the north, if we compare together the southern and northern parts of the two countries respectively. Thus it is that they can so easily change their abode. They march in crowds in one collected army, or rather remove with all their families, whenever they are ejected by a more powerful force. They were subdued by the Romans much more easily than the Iberians; for they began to wage war with these latter first, and ceased last, having in the mean time conquered the whole of the nations situated between the Rhine and the mountains of the Pyrenees. For these fighting in crowds and vast numbers, were overthrown in crowds, whereas the Iberians kept themselves in reserve, and broke up the war into a series of petty engagements, showing themselves in different bands, sometimes here, sometimes there, like banditti. All the Gauls are warriors by nature, but they fight better on horseback than on foot, and the flower of the Roman cavalry is drawn from their number. The most valiant of them dwell towards the north and next the ocean.

3. Of these they say that the Belgæ are the bravest. They are divided into fifteen nations, and dwell near the ocean between the Rhine and the Loire, and have therefore sustained themselves single-handed against the incursions of the Germans, the Cimbri,1481 and the Teutons. The bravest of the [Pg 293] Belgæ are the Bellovaci,1482 and after them the Suessiones. The amount of their population may be estimated by the fact that formerly there were said to be 300,000 Belgæ capable of bearing arms.1483 The numbers of the Helvetii, the Arverni, and their allies, have already been mentioned. All this is a proof both of the amount of the population [of Gaul], and, as before remarked, of the fecundity of their women, and the ease with which they rear their children. The Gauls wear the sagum, let their hair grow, and wear short breeches. Instead of tunics they wear a slashed garment with sleeves descending a little below the hips.1484 The wool [of their sheep] is coarse, but long; from it they weave the thick saga called laines. However, in the northern parts the Romans rear flocks of sheep which they cover with skins, and which produce very fine wool. The equipment [of the Gauls] is in keeping with the size of their bodies; they have a long sword hanging at their right side, a long shield, and lances in proportion, together with a madaris somewhat resembling a javelin; some of them also use bows and slings; they have also a piece of wood resembling a pilum, which they hurl not out of a thong, but from their hand, and to a farther distance than an arrow. They principally make use of it in shooting birds. To the present day most of them lie on the ground, and take their meals seated on straw. They subsist principally on milk and all kinds of flesh, especially that of swine, which they eat both fresh and salted. Their swine live in the fields, and surpass in height, strength, and swiftness. To persons unaccustomed to approach them they are almost as dangerous as wolves. The people dwell in great houses arched, constructed of planks and wicker, and covered with a heavy thatched roof. They have sheep and swine in such abundance, that they supply saga and salted pork in plenty, not only to Rome but to most parts of Italy. Their governments were for the most part aristocratic; formerly they chose a governor every year, and a military leader was likewise elected by the multitude.1485 At the present day they are mostly under [Pg 294]
[CAS. 197]
subjection to the Romans. They have a peculiar custom in their assemblies. If any one makes an uproar or interrupts the person speaking, an attendant advances with a drawn sword, and commands him with menace to be silent; if he persists, the attendant does the same thing a second and third time; and finally, [if he will not obey,] cuts off from his sagum so large a piece as to render the remainder useless. The labours of the two sexes are distributed in a manner the reverse of what they are with us, but this is a common thing with numerous other barbarians.

4. Amongst [the Gauls] there are generally three divisions of men especially reverenced, the Bards, the Vates, and the Druids. The Bards composed and chanted hymns; the Vates occupied themselves with the sacrifices and the study of nature; while the Druids joined to the study of nature that of moral philosophy. The belief in the justice [of the Druids] is so great that the decision both of public and private disputes is referred to them; and they have before now, by their decision, prevented armies from engaging when drawn up in battle-array against each other. All cases of murder are particularly referred to them. When there is plenty of these they imagine there will likewise be a plentiful harvest. Both these and the others1486 assert that the soul is indestructible, and likewise the world, but that sometimes fire and sometimes water have prevailed in making great changes.1487

5. To their simplicity and vehemence, the Gauls join much folly, arrogance, and love of ornament. They wear golden collars round their necks, and bracelets on their arms and wrists, and those who are of any dignity have garments dyed and worked with gold. This lightness of character makes them intolerable when they conquer, and throws them into consternation when worsted. In addition to their folly, they have a barbarous and absurd custom, common however with many nations of the north, of suspending the heads of their enemies from their horses’ necks on their return from battle, and when they have arrived nailing them as a spectacle to their gates. Posidonius says he witnessed this in many different places, and was at first shocked, but became familiar with it in time on account of its frequency. The [Pg 295] heads of any illustrious persons they embalm with cedar, exhibit them to strangers, and would not sell them for their weight in gold.1488 However, the Romans put a stop to these customs, as well as to their modes of sacrifice and divination, which were quite opposite to those sanctioned by our laws. They would strike a man devoted as an offering in his back with a sword, and divine from his convulsive throes. Without the Druids they never sacrifice. It is said they have other modes of sacrificing their human victims; that they pierce some of them with arrows, and crucify others in their temples; and that they prepare a colossus of hay and wood, into which they put cattle, beasts of all kinds, and men, and then set fire to it.

6. They say that in the ocean, not far from the coast, there is a small island lying opposite to the outlet of the river Loire, inhabited by Samnite women who are Bacchantes, and conciliate and appease that god by mysteries and sacrifices. No man is permitted to land on the island; and when the women desire to have intercourse with the other sex, they cross the sea, and afterwards return again. They have a custom of once a year unroofing the whole of the temple, and roofing it again the same day before sunset, each one bringing some of the materials. If any one lets her burden fall, she is torn in pieces by the others, and her limbs carried round the temple with wild shouts, which they never cease until their rage is exhausted. [They say] it always happens that some one drops her burden, and is thus sacrificed.

But what Artemidorus tells us concerning the crows, partakes still more of fiction. He narrates that on the coast, washed by the ocean, there is a harbour named the Port of Two Crows, and that here two crows may be seen with their right wings white. Those who have any dispute come here, and each one having placed a plank for himself on a lofty eminence, sprinkles crumbs thereupon; the birds fly to these, eat up the one and scatter the other, and he whose crumbs are scattered gains the cause. This narration has decidedly too much the air of fiction. What he narrates concerning Ceres and Proserpine is more credible. He says that there is an island near Britain in which they perform sacrifices to [Pg 296]
[CAS. 199]
these goddesses after the same fashion that they do in Samothrace. The following is also credible, that a tree grows in Keltica similar to a fig, which produces a fruit resembling a Corinthian capital, and which, being cut, exudes a poisonous juice which they use for poisoning their arrows. It is well known that all the Kelts are fond of disputes; and that amongst them pæderasty is not considered shameful. Ephorus extends the size of Keltica too far, including within it most of what we now designate as Iberia, as far as Gades. He states that the people are great admirers of the Greeks, and relates many particulars concerning them not applicable to their present state. This is one:—That they take great care not to become fat or big-bellied, and that if any young man exceeds the measure of a certain girdle, he is punished.1489

Such is our account of Keltica beyond the Alps.1490


1. Britain is triangular in form; its longest side lies parallel to Keltica, in length neither exceeding nor falling short of it; for each of them extends as much as 4300 or 4400 stadia: the side of Keltica extending from the mouths of the Rhine to the northern extremities of the Pyrenees towards Aquitaine; and that of Britain, which commences at Kent, its most eastern point, opposite the mouths of the Rhine, extending to the western extremity of the island, which lies over against Aquitaine and the Pyrenees. This is the shortest line from the Pyrenees to the Rhine; the longest is said to be 5000 stadia; but it is likely that there is some [Pg 297] convergency of the river towards the mountain from a strictly parallel position, there being an inclination of either toward the other at the extremities next the ocean.

2. There are four passages commonly used from the continent to the island, namely, from the mouths of the rivers Rhine, Seine, Loire, and Garonne; but to such as set sail from the parts about the Rhine, the passage is not exactly from its mouths, but from the Morini,1491 who border on the Menapii,1492 among whom also is situated Itium,1493 which divus Cæsar used as his naval station when about to pass over to the island: he set sail by night, and arrived the next day about the fourth hour,1494 having completed a passage of 320 stadia, and he found the corn in the fields. The greatest portion of the island is level and woody, although many tracts are hilly. It produces corn, cattle, gold, silver, and iron, which things are brought thence, and also skins, and slaves, and dogs sagacious in hunting; the Kelts use these, as well as their native dogs, for the purposes of war. The men are taller than the Kelts, with hair less yellow; they are slighter in their persons. As an instance of their height, we ourselves saw at Rome some youths who were taller than the tallest there by as much as half a foot, but their legs were bowed, and in other respects they were not symmetrical in conformation. Their manners are in part like those of the Kelts, though in part more simple and barbarous; insomuch that some of them, though possessing plenty of milk, have not skill enough to make cheese, and are totally unacquainted with horticulture and other matters of husbandry. There are several states amongst them. In their wars they make use of chariots for the most part, as do some of the Kelts. Forests are their cities; for having enclosed an ample space [Pg 298]
[CAS. 200]
with felled trees, they make themselves huts therein, and lodge their cattle, though not for any long continuance. Their atmosphere is more subject to rain than to snow; even in their clear days the mist continues for a considerable time, insomuch that throughout the whole day the sun is only visible for three or four hours about noon; and this must be the case also amongst the Morini, and the Menapii, and among all the neighbouring people.

3. Divus Cæsar twice passed over to the island, but quickly returned, having effected nothing of consequence, nor proceeded far into the country, as well on account of some commotions in Keltica, both among his own soldiers and among the barbarians, as because of the loss of many of his ships at the time of the full moon, when both the ebb and flow of the tides were greatly increased.1495 Nevertheless he gained two or three victories over the Britons, although he had transported thither only two legions of his army, and brought away hostages and slaves and much other booty. At the present time, however, some of the princes there have, by their embassies and solicitations, obtained the friendship of Augustus Cæsar, dedicated their offerings in the Capitol, and brought the whole island into intimate union with the Romans. They pay but moderate duties both on the imports and exports from Keltica; which are ivory bracelets and necklaces, amber, vessels of glass, and small wares; so that the island scarcely needs a garrison, for at the least it would require one legion and some cavalry to enforce tribute from them; and the total expenditure for the army would be equal to the revenue collected; for if a tribute were levied, of necessity the imposts must be diminished, and at the same time some danger would be incurred if force were to be employed.

4. There are also other small islands around Britain; but one, of great extent, Ierna,1496 lying parallel to it towards the [Pg 299] north, long or rather, wide; concerning which we have nothing certain to relate, further than that its inhabitants are more savage than the Britons, feeding on human flesh, and enormous eaters, and deeming it commendable to devour their deceased fathers,1497 as well as openly1498 to have commerce not only with other women, but also with their own mothers and sisters.1499 But this we relate perhaps without very competent authority; although to eat human flesh is said to be a Scythian custom; and during the severities of a siege, even the Kelts, the Iberians, and many others, are reported to have done the like.1500

5. The account of Thulè is still more uncertain, on account of its secluded situation; for they consider it to be the northernmost of all lands of which the names are known. The falsity of what Pytheas has related concerning this and neighbouring places, is proved by what he has asserted of well-known countries. For if, as we have shown, his description of these is in the main incorrect, what he says of far distant countries is still more likely to be false.1501 Nevertheless, as far as astronomy and the mathematics are concerned, he appears to have reasoned correctly, that people bordering on the frozen [Pg 300]
[CAS. 201]
zone would be destitute of cultivated fruits, and almost deprived of the domestic animals; that their food would consist of millet, herbs, fruits, and roots; and that where there was corn and honey they would make drink of these. That having no bright sun, they would thresh their corn, and store it in vast granaries, threshing-floors being useless on account of the rain and want of sun.


1. Having described Keltica beyond the Alps,1502 and the nations who inhabit the country, we must now speak of the Alps themselves and their inhabitants, and afterwards of the whole of Italy; observing in our description such arrangement as the nature of the country shall point out.

The Alps do not commence at Monœci Portus,1503 as some have asserted, but from the region whence the Apennines take their rise about Genoa, a mercantile city of the Ligurians, and at the marshes named Sabatorum Vada;1504 for the Apennines take their rise near Genoa, and the Alps near Sabatorum Vada. The distance between Genoa and the Sabatorum Vada is about 260 stadia. About 370 stadia farther on is the little city of Albingaunum,1505 inhabited by Ligurians who are called Ingauni. From thence to the Monœci Portus is 480 stadia. In the interval between is the very considerable city of Albium Intemelium,1506 inhabited by the Intemelii. These names are sufficient to prove that the Alps commence at the Sabbatorum Vada. For the Alps were formerly called Albia and Alpionia,1507 and at the present day the high mountain in the country of the Iapodes,1508 next to Ocra and the Alps, is named Albius, showing that the Alps extend so far.

[Pg 301] 2. Now since the Ligurians were divided into Ingauni and Intemelii, it was natural that their maritime colonies should be distinguished, one by the name of Albium Intemelium, Alpine as it were, and the other by the more concise form Albingaunum.1509 To these two tribes of Ligurians already mentioned, Polybius adds those of the Oxybii and Deciates.1510 The whole coast from Monœci Portus to Tyrrhenia is continuous, and without harbours excepting some small roads and anchorages. Above it rise the rugged precipices of the Alpine range, leaving but a narrow passage along the sea. This district, but particularly the mountains, is inhabited by Ligurians, principally subsisting on the produce of their herds, and milk, and a drink made of barley. There is plenty of wood here for the construction of ships; the trees grow to a vast size, some of them having been found eight feet in diameter. Much of the wood is veined, and not inferior to cedar-wood for cabinet work. This wood, together with the produce of their cattle, hides, and honey, they transport to the mart of Genoa, receiving in exchange for them the oil and wine of Italy; for the little [wine] which their country produces is harsh and tastes of pitch. Here are bred the horses and mules known as ginni, and here too are wrought the Ligurian tunics and saga. In their country likewise there is plenty of lingurium, called by some electrum.1511 They use but few cavalry in war; their infantry are good, and excellent slingers. Some have thought that their brazen shields prove these people to be of Grecian origin.

3. The Monœci Portus is merely a roadstead, not capable of containing either many or large vessels. Here is a temple dedicated to Hercules Monœcus.1512 The name seems to show it probable that the Massilian voyages along the coast extended as far as here. Monœci Portus is distant from Antipolis rather more than 200 stadia. The Salyes occupy the region from thence to Marseilles, or a little farther; they [Pg 302]
[CAS. 203]
inhabit the Alps which lie above that city, and a portion of the sea-coast, where they intermingle with the Greeks. The ancient Greeks gave to the Salyes the name of Ligyes,1513 and to the country which was in the possession of the Marseillese, that of Ligystica.1514 The later Greeks named them Kelto-Ligyes,1515 and assigned to them the whole of the plains extending as far as Luerion1516 and the Rhone. They are divided into ten cantons, and are capable of raising troops not only of infantry, but of cavalry also. These people were the first of the Transalpine Kelts whom the Romans subdued after maintaining a lengthened war against them and the Ligurians. They closed [against the Romans] all the roads into Iberia along the sea-coast, and carried on a system of pillage both by sea and land. Their strength so increased that large armies were scarcely able to force a passage. And after a war of eighty years, the Romans were hardly able to obtain a breadth of twelve stadia for the purpose of making a public road. After this, however, the Romans subdued the whole of them, and established among them a regular form of government, and imposed a tribute.1517

4. After the Salyes, the Albienses, the Albiœci,1518 and the Vocontii inhabit the northern portion of the mountains. The Vocontii extend as far as the Allobriges, and occupy vast valleys in the depths of the mountains, not inferior to those inhabited by the Allobriges. Both the Allobriges and Ligurians are subject to the pretors sent into the Narbonnaise, but the Vocontii are governed by their own laws, as we have said of the Volcæ of Nemausus.1519 Of the Ligurians between the Var and Genoa, those along the sea are considered Italians; while the mountaineers are governed by a prefect of the equestrian order, as is the case in regard to other nations wholly barbarous.

[Pg 303] 5. After the Vocontii, are the Iconii, the Tricorii, and the Medulli; who inhabit the loftiest ridges of the mountains, for they say that some of them have an almost perpendicular ascent of 100 stadia, and a similar descent to the frontiers of Italy. In these highlands there is a great lake; there are also two springs not far distant from each other; one of these gives rise to the Durance, which flows like a torrent into the Rhone, and to the Durias,1520 which flows in an opposite direction; for it mingles with the Po after having pursued its course through the country of the Salassi1521 into Cisalpine Keltica. From the other source, but much lower down, rises the Po itself, large and rapid, which as it advances becomes still vaster, and at the same time more gentle. As it reaches the plains it increases in breadth, being augmented by numerous [other rivers], and thus it becomes less impetuous in its course, and its current is weakened. Having become the largest river in Europe, with the exception of the Danube,1522 it discharges itself into the Adriatic Sea. The Medulli are situated considerably above the confluence of the Isère and the Rhone.

6. On the opposite side of the mountains, sloping towards Italy, dwell the Taurini,1523 a Ligurian nation, together with certain other Ligurians. What is called the land of Ideonnus1524 and Cottius belongs to these Ligurians. Beyond them and the Po are the Salassi; above whom in the summits [of the Alps] are the Kentrones, the Catoriges, the Veragri, the Nantuatæ,1525 Lake Leman,1526 traversed by the Rhone, and the [Pg 304]
[CAS. 204]
sources of that river. Not far from these are the sources of the Rhine, and Mount Adulas,1527 from whence the Rhine flows towards the north; likewise the Adda,1528 which flows in an opposite direction, and discharges itself into Lake Larius,1529 near to Como. Lying above Como, which is situated at the roots of the Alps, on one side are the Rhæti and Vennones towards the east,1530 and on the other the Lepontii, the Tridentini, the Stoni,1531 and numerous other small nations, poor and addicted to robbery, who in former times possessed Italy. At the present time some of them have been destroyed, and the others at length civilized, so that the passes over the mountains through their territories, which were formerly few and difficult, now run in every direction, secure from any danger of these people, and as accessible as art can make them. For Augustus Cæsar not only destroyed the robbers, but improved the character of the roads as far as practicable, although he could not every where overcome nature, on account of the rocks and immense precipices; some of which tower above the road, while others yawn beneath; so that departing ever so little [from the path], the traveller is in inevitable danger of falling down bottomless chasms. In some places the road is so narrow as to make both the foot traveller and his beasts of burden, who are unaccustomed to it, dizzy; but the animals of the district will carry their burdens quite securely. These things however are beyond remedy, as well as the violent descent of vast masses of congealed snow from above, capable of overwhelming a whole company at a time, and sweeping them into the chasms beneath. Numerous masses lie one upon the other, one hill of congealed snow being formed upon another, so that the uppermost mass is easily detached at any time from that below it, before being perfectly melted by the sun.

7. A great part of the country of the Salassi lies in a deep valley,1532 formed by a chain of mountains which encloses the district on either side; a part of them however inhabit the [Pg 305] overhanging ridges. The route of those who are desirous of passing from Italy over these mountains, lies through the aforesaid valley. Beyond this the road separates into two. The one which passes through the mountain peaks, known as the Pennine Alps, cannot be traversed by carriages; the other, which runs through the country of the Centrones, lies more to the west.1533 The country of the Salassi contains gold mines, of which formerly, in the days of their power, they were masters, as well as of the passes. The river Doria Baltea1534 afforded them great facility in obtaining the metal by [supplying them with water] for washing the gold, and they have emptied the main bed by the numerous trenches cut for drawing the water to different places. This operation, though advantageous in gold hunting, was injurious to the agriculturists below, as it deprived them of the irrigation of a river, which, by the height of its position, was capable of watering their plains. This gave rise to frequent wars between the two nations; when the Romans gained the dominion, the Salassi lost both their gold works and their country, but as they still possessed the mountains, they continued to sell water to the public contractors of the gold mines; with whom there were continual disputes on account of the avarice of the contractors, and thus the Roman generals sent into the country were ever able to find a pretext for commencing war. And, until very recently, the Salassi at one time waging war against the Romans, and at another making peace, took occasion to inflict numerous damages upon those who crossed over their mountains, by their system of plundering; and even exacted from Decimus Brutus, on his flight from Mutina,1535 a drachm per man. Messala, likewise, having taken up his winter quarters in their vicinity, was obliged to pay them, both for his fire-wood, and for the elm-wood for making javelins for the exercise of his troops. In one instance they plundered the treasures of Cæsar,1536 and rolled down huge [Pg 306]
[CAS. 206]
masses of rock upon the soldiers under pretence of making roads, or building bridges over the rivers. Afterwards Augustus completely overthrew them, and carried them to Eporedia,1537 a Roman colony which had been planted as a bulwark against the Salassi, although the inhabitants were able to do but little against them until the nation was destroyed; their numbers amounted to 36,000 persons, besides 8000 men capable of bearing arms. Terentius Varro, the general who defeated them, sold them all by public auction, as enemies taken in war. Three thousand Romans sent out by Augustus founded the city of Augusta,1538 on the spot where Varro had encamped, and now the whole surrounding country, even to the summits of the mountains, is at peace.

8. Beyond, both the eastern parts of the mountains, and those likewise inclining to the south, are possessed by the Rhæti and Vindelici, who adjoin the Helvetii and Boii, and press upon their plains. The Rhæti extend as far as Italy above Verona and Como. The Rhætian wine, which is esteemed not inferior to the finest wines of Italy, is produced [from vines which grow] at the foot of the mountains. These people extend also as far as the districts through which the Rhine flows. The Lepontii and Camuni are of their nation. The Vindelici and Norici possess, for the most part, the opposite side of the mountains together with the Breuni and Genauni, who form part of the Illyrians.1539 All these people were continually making incursions both into the neighbouring parts of Italy, and into [the countries] of the Helvetii, [Pg 307] the Sequani,1540 the Boii, and the Germans.1541 But the Licattii, the Clautinatii, and the Vennones1542 proved the boldest amongst the Vindelici; and the Rucantii and Cotuantii amongst the Rhæti. Both the Estiones and Brigantii belong to the Vindelici; their cities are Brigantium, Campodunum, and Damasia, which may be looked upon as the Acropolis of the Licattii. It is narrated, as an instance of the extreme brutality of these robbers towards the people of Italy, that when they have taken any village or city, they not only put to death all the men capable of bearing arms, but likewise all the male children, and do not even stop here, but murder every pregnant woman who, their diviners say, will bring forth a male infant.1543

9. After these come certain of the Norici, and the Carni, who inhabit the country about the Adriatic Gulf and Aquileia. The Taurisci belong to the Norici. Tiberius and his brother Drusus in one summer put a stop to their lawless incursions, so that now for three and thirty years1544 they have lived quietly and paid their tribute regularly. Throughout the whole region of the Alps there are hilly districts capable of excellent cultivation, and well situated valleys; but the greater part, especially the summits of the mountains inhabited by the robbers, are barren and unfruitful, both on account of the frost and the ruggedness of the land. On account of the want of food and other necessaries the mountaineers have sometimes been obliged to spare the inhabitants of the plains, that they might have some people to supply them; for these they have given them in exchange, resin, pitch, torches, [Pg 308]
[CAS. 207]
wax, cheese, and honey, of which they have plenty. In the Mount Apennine1545 which lies above the Carni there is a lake which runs out into the Isar, which river, after receiving another river, the Aude,1546 discharges itself into the Adriatic. From this lake there is also another river, the Atesinus, which flows into the Danube.1547 The Danube itself rises in the mountains which are split into many branches and numerous summits. For from Liguria to here the summits of the Alps stretch along continuously, presenting the appearance of one mountain; but after this they rise and fall in turns, forming numerous ridges and peaks. The first of these is beyond the Rhine and the lake1548 inclining towards the east, its ridge moderately elevated; here are the sources of the Danube near to the Suevi and the forest of Hercynia.1549 The other branches extend towards Illyria and the Adriatic, such are the Mount Apennine, already mentioned, Tullum and Phligadia,1550 the mountains lying above the Vindelici from whence proceed the Duras,1551 the Clanis,1552 and many other rivers which discharge themselves like torrents into the current of the Danube.

10. Near to these regions dwell the Iapodes, (a nation now mixed with the Illyrians, and Kelts,) close to them is [the Mount] Ocra.1553 Formerly the Iapodes were numerous, inhabiting either side of the mountain, and were notorious for their predatory habits, but they have been entirely reduced and brought to subjection by Augustus Cæsar. Their cities are [Pg 309] Metulum,1554 Arupenum,1555 Monetium,1556 and Vendon.1557 After these is the city of Segesta,1558 [situated] in a plain. Near to it flows the river Save,1559 which discharges itself into the Danube. This city lies in an advantageous position for carrying on war against the Dacians.1560 Ocra forms the lowest portion of the Alps, where they approach the territory of the Carni, and through which they convey the merchandise of Aquileia in waggons to Pamportus.1561 This route is not more than 400 stadia. From thence they convey it by the rivers as far as the Danube and surrounding districts, for a navigable river1562 which flows out of Illyria, passes by Pamportus, and discharges itself into the Save, so that the merchandise may easily be carried down both to Segesta, and to the Pannonians, and Taurisci.1563 It is near this city,1564 that the Kulp1565 falls into the Save. Both of these rivers are navigable, and flow down from the Alps. The Alps contain wild horses and cattle, and Polybius asserts that an animal of a singular form is found there; it resembles a stag except in the neck and hair, which are similar to those of a wild boar; under its chin it has a tuft of hair about a span long, and the thickness of the tail of a young horse.1566

11. One of the passages over the mountains from Italy into Transalpine and northern Keltica is that which passes through the country of the Salassi, and leads to Lugdunum.1567 This [route] is divided into two ways, one practicable for carriages, but longer, which crosses the country of the Centrones, the other steep and narrow, but shorter; this crosses the Pennine [Alps]. Lugdunum is situated in the midst of the country, serving as an Acropolis, both on account of the confluence of [Pg 310]
[CAS. 208]
the rivers, and of its being equally near to all parts. It was on this account that Agrippa cut all the roads from this [as a centre] one running through the mountains of the Cevennes to the Santones1568 and Aquitaine,1569 another towards the Rhine; a third towards the ocean by the country of the Bellovaci1570 and Ambiani,1571 and a fourth towards the Narbonaise and the coast of Marseilles.1572 The traveller, also, leaving Lugdunum and the country above on his left, may pass over the Pennine Alps themselves, the Rhone, or Lake Leman, into the plains of the Helvetii, whence there is a passage through Mount Jura into the country of the Sequani, and Lingones; here the road separates into two routes, one running to the Rhine, and the other1573 to the ocean.

12. Polybius tells us that in his time the gold mines were so rich about Aquileia, but particularly in the countries of the Taurisci Norici, that if you dug but two feet below the surface you found gold, and that the diggings [generally] were not deeper than fifteen feet. In some instances the gold was found pure in lumps about the size of a bean or lupin, and which diminished in the fire only about one eighth; and in others, though requiring more fusion, was still very profitable. Certain Italians1574 aiding the barbarians in working [the mines], in the space of two months the value of gold was diminished throughout the whole of Italy by one third. The Taurisci on discovering this drove out their fellow-labourers, and only sold the gold themselves. Now, however, the Romans possess all the gold mines. Here, too, as well as in Iberia, the rivers yield gold-dust as well as the diggings, [Pg 311] though not in such large quantities. The same writer, speaking of the extent and height of the Alps, compares with them the largest mountains of Greece, such as Taygetum,1575 Lycæum,1576 Parnassus,1577 Olympus,1578 Pelion,1579 Ossa,1580 and of Thrace, as the Hæmus, Rhodope, and Dunax, saying that an active person might almost ascend any of these in a single day, and go round them in the same time, whereas five days would not be sufficient to ascend the Alps, while their length along the plains extends 2200 stadia.1581 He only names four passes over the mountains, one through Liguria close to the Tyrrhenian Sea,1582 a second through the country of the Taurini,1583 by which Hannibal passed, a third through the country of the Salassi,1584 and a fourth through that of the Rhæti,1585 all of them precipitous. In these mountains, he says, there are numerous lakes; three large ones, the first of which is Benacus,1586 500 stadia in length and 130 in breadth, the river Mincio flows from it. The second is the Verbanus,1587 400 stadia [in length], and in breadth smaller than the preceding; [Pg 312]
[CAS. 209]
the great river Ticino1588 flows from this [lake]. The third is the Larius,1589 its length is nearly 300 stadia, and its breadth 30, the river Adda flows from it. All these rivers flow into the Po. This is what we have to say concerning the Alpine mountains.

[Pg 313]




The Fifth Book contains a description of Italy from the roots of the Alps to the Strait of Sicily, the Gulf of Taranto, and the region about Posidonium; likewise of Venetia, Liguria, Agro Piceno, Tuscany, Rome, Campania, Lucania, Apulia, and the islands lying in the sea between Genoa and Sicily.


1. At the foot of the Alps commences the region now known as Italy. The ancients by Italy merely understood Œnotria, which reached from the Strait of Sicily to the Gulf of Taranto, and the region about Posidonium,1590 but the name has extended even to the foot of the Alps; comprehending on one side that portion of Liguria situated by the sea, from the confines of Tyrrhenia to the Var; and on the other, that portion of Istria which extends as far as Pola. It seems probable that the first inhabitants were named Italians, and, being successful, they communicated their name to the neighbouring tribes, and this propagation [of name] continued until the Romans obtained dominion. Afterwards, when the Romans conferred on the Italians the privileges of equal citizenship, and thought fit to extend the same honour to the Cisalpine Galatæ and Heneti,1591 they comprised the whole under the general denomination of Italians and Romans; they likewise founded amongst them numerous colonies, some earlier, some later, of which it would be difficult to say which are the most considerable.

2. It is not easy to describe the whole of Italy under any one geometrical figure; although some say that it is a promontory of triangular form, extending towards the south and winter rising, with its apex towards the Strait of Sicily, and [Pg 314]
[CAS. 210]
its base formed by the Alps.... [No one can allow this definition either for the base or one of the sides,] although it is correct for the other side which terminates at the Strait, and is washed by the Tyrrhenian Sea. But a triangle, properly so called, is a rectilinear figure, whereas in this instance both the base and the sides are curved. So that, if I agree, I must add that the base and the sides are of a curved figure, and it must be conceded to me that the eastern side deviates, as well; otherwise they have not been sufficiently exact in describing as one side that which extends from the head of the Adriatic to the Strait [of Sicily]. For we designate as a side a line without any angle; now a line without any angle is one which does not incline to either side, or but very little; whereas the line from Ariminum1592 to the Iapygian promontory,1593 and that from the Strait [of Sicily] to the same promontory, incline very considerably. The same I consider to be the case with regard to the lines drawn from the head of the Adriatic and Iapygia, for meeting about the neighbourhood of Ariminum and Ravenna, they form an angle, or if not an angle, at least a strongly defined curve. Consequently, if the coast from the head [of the Adriatic] to Iapygia be considered as one side, it cannot be described as a right line; neither can the remainder of the line from hence to the Strait [of Sicily], though it may be considered another side, be said to form a right line. Thus the figure [of Italy] may be said to be rather quadrilateral than trilateral, and can never without impropriety be called a triangle. It is better to confess that you cannot define exactly ungeometrical figures.

3. [Italy], however, may be described in the following manner. The roots of the Alps are curved, and in the form of a gulf, the head turned towards Italy; the middle of the gulf in the country of the Salassi, and its extremities turned, the one towards Ocra and the head of the Adriatic, the other towards the coast of Liguria as far as Genoa, a mercantile city of the Ligurians, where the Apennines fall in with the Alps. Immediately under [the Alps] there is a considerable plain, of about an equal extent of 2100 stadia both in breadth and length; its southern side is closed by the coast of the Heneti1594 and the Apennines, which extend to Ariminum and [Pg 315] Ancona; for these mountains, commencing at Liguria, enter Tyrrhenia, leaving but a narrow sea-coast; they afterwards retire by degrees into the interior, and having reached the territory of Pisa, turn towards the east in the direction of the Adriatic as far as the country about Ariminum and Ancona, where they approach the sea-coast of the Heneti at right angles. Cisalpine Keltica is enclosed within these limits, and the length of the coast joined to that of the mountains is 6300 stadia; its breadth rather less than 2000. The remainder of Italy is long and narrow, and terminates in two promontories, one1595 extending to the Strait of Sicily, the other1596 to Iapygia. It is embraced on one side by the Adriatic,1597 on the other by the Tyrrhenian Sea.1598 The form and size of the Adriatic resembles that portion of Italy bounded by the Apennines and the two seas, and extending as far as Iapygia and the isthmus which separates the Gulf of Taranto from that of Posidonium.1599 The greatest breadth of both is about 1300 stadia, and the length not much less than 6000. The remainder of the country is possessed by the Bruttii, and certain of the Leucani. Polybius tells us, that traversing the sea-coast on foot from Iapygia1600 to the Strait [of Sicily] there are 3000 stadia, the coast being washed by the Sea of Sicily; but, that going by water it is 500 stadia less. The Apennines, after approaching the country about Ariminum and Ancona, and determining the breadth of Italy at this point from sea to sea, change their direction and divide the whole country throughout its length. As far as the Peucetii and Leucani they do not recede much from the Adriatic, but on arriving at the Leucani they decline considerably towards the other sea,1601 and traversing the remainder of the distance through the Leucani and Bruttii, terminate at Leucopetra,1602 in Reggio. Such is a general description of the whole of present Italy. We will now endeavour to undertake a description of its various parts. And, first, of those situated below the Alps.

[Pg 316]
[CAS. 212]
4. This is a superb plain variegated with fruitful hills. The Po divides it almost through its midst, one side being denominated Cispadana, and the other Transpadana. Cispadana comprehends that part next the Apennines and Liguria and Transpadana the remainder. The former [division] is inhabited by Ligurian and Keltic nations, the former inhabiting the mountains and the latter the plains; and the latter [division] by Kelts and Heneti. These Kelts are of the same race as the Transalpine Kelts. Concerning the Heneti there are two traditions, some saying that they are a colony of those Kelts of the same name who dwell by the ocean.1603 Others say that they are descended from the Veneti of Paphlagonia, who took refuge here with Antenor after the Trojan war; and they give as a proof of this the attention these people bestow on rearing horses; which, though now entirely abandoned, was formerly in great esteem among them, resulting from the ancient rage for breeding mules, which Homer thus mentions:

“From the Eneti for forest mules renowned.”1604

It was here that Dionysius, the tyrant of Sicily, kept his stud of race-horses. And, in consequence, the Henetian horses were much esteemed in Greece, and their breed in great repute for a long period.

5. The whole of this country1605 is full of rivers and marshes, especially the district of the Heneti, which likewise experiences the tides of the sea. This is almost the only part of our sea1606 which is influenced in the same manner as the ocean, and, like it, has ebb and flood tides. In consequence most of the plain is covered with lagoons.1607 The inhabitants have dug canals and dikes, after the manner of Lower Egypt, so that part of the country is drained and cultivated, and the rest is navigable. Some of their cities stand in the midst of water like islands, others are only partially surrounded. Such as lie above the marshes in the interior are situated on rivers navigable for a surprising distance, the Po in particular, [Pg 317] which is both a large river, and also continually swelled by the rains and snows. As it expands into numerous outlets, its mouth is not easily perceptible and is difficult to enter. But experience surmounts even the greatest difficulties.

6. Formerly, as we have said, the district next this river was chiefly inhabited by Kelts. The principal nations of these Kelts were the Boii, the Insubri, and the Senones and Gæsatæ, who in one of their incursions took possession of Rome. The Romans afterwards entirely extirpated these latter, and expelled the Boii from their country, who then migrated to the land about the Danube, where they dwelt with the Taurisci, and warred against the Dacians until the whole nation was destroyed; and they left to the surrounding tribes this sheep-pasturing district of Illyria. The Insubri still exist; their metropolis is Mediolanum,1608 which formerly was a village, (for they all dwelt in villages,) but is now a considerable city, beyond the Po, and almost touching the Alps. Near to it is Verona, a large city, and the smaller towns Brescia, Mantua, Reggio, and Como. This latter was but a very indifferent colony, having been seriously impaired by the Rhæti who dwelt higher up, but it was repeopled by Pompey Strabo, father of Pompey the Great. Afterwards Caius Scipio1609 transferred thither 3000 men, and finally divus Cæsar peopled it with 5000 men, the most distinguished of whom were 500 Greeks. He conferred on these the privileges of citizens, and enrolled them amongst the inhabitants. They not only took up their abode here, but left their name to the colony itself; for all the inhabitants taking the name of Νεοκωμῖται, this was translated [into Latin], and the place called Novum-Comum. Near to this place is Lake Larius,1610 which is filled by the river Adda, and afterwards flows out into the Po. The sources of this river, as well as those of the Rhine, rise in Mount Adulas.1611

7. These cities are situated high above the marshes; near to them is Patavium,1612 the finest of all the cities in this [Pg 318]
[CAS. 213]
district, and which at the time of the late census1613 was said to contain 500 equites. Anciently it could muster an army of 120,000 men. The population and skill of this city is evinced by the vast amount of manufactured goods it sends to the Roman market, especially clothing of all kinds. It communicates with the sea by a river navigable from a large harbour [at its mouth], the river runs across the marshes for a distance of 250 stadia. This harbour,1614 as well as the river,1615 is named Medoacus. Situated in the marshes is the great [city of] Ravenna, built entirely on piles,1616 and traversed by canals, which you cross by bridges or ferry-boats. At the full tides it is washed by a considerable quantity of sea-water, as well as by the river, and thus the sewage is carried off, and the air purified; in fact, the district is considered so salubrious that the [Roman] governors have selected it as a spot to bring up and exercise the gladiators in. It is a remarkable peculiarity of this place, that, though situated in the midst of a marsh, the air is perfectly innocuous; the same is the case with respect to Alexandria in Egypt, where the malignity of the lake during summer is entirely removed by the rising of the river which covers over the mud. Another remarkable peculiarity is that of its vines, which, though growing in the marshes, make very quickly and yield a large amount of fruit, but perish in four or five years. Altinum1617 stands likewise in the marshes, its situation being very similar to that of Ravenna. Between them is Butrium,1618 a small city of Ravenna, and Spina,1619 which is now a village, but was anciently a celebrated Grecian city. In fact, the treasures of the Spinitæ are shown at Delphi, and it is, besides, reported in history that [Pg 319] they had dominion over the sea. They say that it formerly stood on the sea; now, however, the district is inland about 90 stadia from the sea. Ravenna is reported to have been founded by Thessalians, who not being able to sustain the violence of the Tyrrheni, welcomed into their city some of the Ombrici, who still possess it, while they themselves returned home. These cities for the most part are surrounded, and, as it were, washed by the marshes.

8. Opitergium,1620 Concordia, Atria,1621 Vicetia,1622 as well as some smaller cities, are less annoyed by the marshes: they communicate by small navigable canals with the sea. They say that Atria was formerly a famous city, from which the Adriatic Gulf, with a slight variation, received its name. Aquileia, which is the nearest to the head [of the gulf], was founded by the Romans,1623 to keep in check the barbarians dwelling higher up. You may navigate transport ships to it up the river Natisone for more than sixty stadia. This is the trading city with the nations of Illyrians who dwell round the Danube. Some deal in marine merchandise, and carry in waggons wine in wooden casks and oil, and others exchange slaves, cattle, and hides. Aquileia is without the limits of the Heneti, their country being bounded by a river which flows from the mountains of the Alps, and is navigable for a distance of 1200 stadia, as far as the city of Noreia,1624 near to where Cnæus Carbo was defeated in his attack upon the Kimbrians.1625 This place contains fine stations for gold washing and iron-works. At the very head of the Adriatic is the Timavum,1626 a temple consecrated to Diomede, worthy of notice. For it contains a harbour and a fine grove, with seven springs of fresh water, which fall into the sea in a broad, deep river.1627 Polybius, however, says that, with the exception of one, they are all salt springs, and that it is on this account the place is called by the inhabitants—the source and mother of the sea. Posidonius, on the other hand, tells us that the river Timavo, after flowing from the mountains, precipitates itself into a chasm, [Pg 320]
[CAS. 215]
and after flowing under ground about 130 stadia, discharges itself into the sea.

9. That Diomedes did hold sovereignty over the country around this sea,1628 is proved both by the Diomedean islands,1629 and the traditions concerning the Daunii and Argos-Hippium.1630 Of these we shall narrate as much as may be serviceable to history, and shall leave alone the numerous falsehoods and myths; such, for instance, as those concerning Phaethon and the Heliades1631 changed into alders near the [river] Eridanus, which exists no where, although said to be near the Po;1632 of the islands Electrides, opposite the mouths of the Po, and the Meleagrides,1633 found in them; none of which things exist in these localities.1634 However, some have narrated that honours are paid to Diomedes amongst the Heneti, and that they sacrifice to him a white horse; two groves are likewise pointed out, one [sacred] to the Argian Juno, and the other to the Ætolian Diana. They have too, as we might expect, fictions concerning these groves; for instance, that the wild beasts in them grow tame, that the deer herd with wolves, and they suffer men to approach and stroke them; and that when pursued by dogs, as soon as they have reached these groves, [Pg 321] the dogs no longer pursue them. They say, too, that a certain person, well known for the facility with which he offered himself as a pledge for others, being bantered on this subject by some hunters who came up with him having a wolf in leash, they said in jest, that if he would become pledge for the wolf and pay for the damage he might do, they would loose the bonds. To this the man consented, and they let loose the wolf, who gave chase to a herd of horses unbranded, and drove them into the stable of the person who had become pledge for him. The man accepted the gift, branded the horses with [the representation of] a wolf, and named them Lucophori. They were distinguished rather for their swiftness than gracefulness. His heirs kept the same brand and the same name for this race of horses, and made it a rule never to part with a single mare, in order that they might remain sole possessors of the race which became famous. At the present day, however, as we have before remarked, this [rage for] horse-breeding has entirely ceased.

After the Timavum1635 comes the sea-coast of Istria as far as Pola, which appertains to Italy. Between [the two] is the fortress of Tergeste, distant from Aquileia 180 stadia. Pola is situated in a gulf forming a kind of port, and containing some small islands,1636 fruitful, and with good harbours. This city was anciently founded by the Colchians sent after Medea, who not being able to fulfil their mission, condemned themselves to exile. As Callimachus says,

“It a Greek would call
The town of Fugitives, but in their tongue
’Tis Pola named.”

The different parts of Transpadana are inhabited by the Heneti and the Istrii as far as Pola; above the Heneti, by the Carni, the Cenomani, the Medoaci, and the Symbri.1637 These nations were formerly at enmity with the Romans, but the Cenomani and Heneti allied themselves with that nation, both prior to the expedition of Hannibal, when they waged war with the Boii and Symbrii,(3) and also after that time.

10. Cispadana comprehends all that country enclosed between [Pg 322]
[CAS. 216]
the Apennines and the Alps as far as Genoa and Vada-Sabbatorum.1638 The greater part was inhabited by the Boii, the Ligurians, the Senones, and Gæsatæ; but after the depopulation of the Boii, and the destruction of the Gæsatæ and Senones, the Ligurian tribes and the Roman colonies alone remained. The nation of the Ombrici1639 and certain of the Tyrrheni are also mixed amongst the Romans. These two nations, before the aggrandizement of the Romans, had some disputes with each other concerning precedence. Having only the river Tiber between, it was easy to commence war upon each other; and if the one sent out an expedition against any nation, it was the ambition of the other to enter the same country with an equal force. Thus, the Tyrrheni, having organized a successful expedition against the barbarians [dwelling in the countries] about the Po, but having speedily lost again through their luxury [all they had acquired], the Ombrici made war upon those who had driven them out. Disputes arose between the Tyrrheni and Ombrici concerning the right of possessing these places, and both nations founded many colonies; those, however, of the Ombrici were most numerous, as they were nearest to the spot. When the Romans gained the dominion, they sent out colonies to different parts, but preserved those which had been formerly planted by their predecessors. And although now they are all Romans, they are not the less distinguished, some by the names of Ombri and Tyrrheni, others by those of Heneti, Ligurians, and Insubri.

11. Both in Cispadana and around the Po there are some fine cities. Placentia1640 and Cremona, situated about the middle of the country, are close to each other. Between these and Ariminum,1641 are Parma, Mutina,1642 and Bononia,1643 which is near to Ravenna; amongst these are smaller cities on the route to Rome, as Acara,1644 Rhegium-Lepidum,1645 Macri-Campi,1646 where a public festival is held every year, Claterna,1647 Forum-Cornelium;1648 while Faventia1649 and Cæsena, situated near to the river Savio1650 and the Rubicon,1651 are adjacent to Ariminum. [Pg 323] Ariminum, like Ravenna, is an ancient colony of the Ombri, but both of them have received also Roman colonies. Ariminum has a port and a river1652 of the same name as itself. From Placentia to Ariminum there are 1300 stadia. About 36 miles above Placentia, towards the boundaries of the kingdom of Cottius, is the city of Ticinum,1653 by which flows a river1654 bearing the same name, which falls into the Po, while a little out of the route are Clastidium,1655 Derthon,1656 and Aquæ-Statiellæ.1657 But the direct route as far as Ocelum,1658 along the Po and the Doria Riparia,1659 is full of precipices, intersected by numerous other rivers, one of which is the Durance,1660 and is about 160 miles long. Here commence the Alpine mountains and Keltica.1661 Near to the mountains above Luna is the city of Lucca. Some [of the people of this part of Italy] dwell in villages, nevertheless it is well populated, and furnishes the greater part of the military force, and of equites, of whom the senate is partly composed. Derthon is a considerable city, situated about half way on the road from Genoa to Placentia, which are distant 400 stadia from each other. Aquæ-Statiellæ is on the same route. That from Placentia to Ariminum we have already described, but the sail to Ravenna down the Po requires two days and nights. A1662 great part of Cispadana likewise was covered by marshes, through which Hannibal passed with difficulty on his march into Tyrrhenia.1663 But Scaurus drained the plains by navigable canals from the Po1664 to the country of the Parmesans. For the Trebia meeting the Po near Placentia, and having previously received many other rivers, is over-swollen near this place. I allude to the Scaurus1665 who also made the Æmilian road through Pisa and Luna as far as Sabbatorum, and thence through Derthon. There is another Æmilian road, which continues the Flaminian. For Marcus Lepidus and Caius Flaminius being colleagues in the consulship, and having vanquished the Ligurians, the one made the Via Flaminia from Rome across [Pg 324]
[CAS. 218]
Tyrrhenia and Ombrica as far as the territory of Ariminum,1666 the other, the road as far as Bononia,1667 and thence to Aquileia1668 by the roots of the Alps, and encircling the marshes. The boundaries which separate from the rest of Italy this country, which we designate Citerior Keltica,1669 were marked by the Apennine mountains above Tyrrhenia and the river Esino,1670 and afterwards by the Rubicon.1671 Both these rivers fall into the Adriatic.

12. The fertility of this country is proved by its population, the size of its cities, and its wealth, in all of which the Romans of this country surpass the rest of Italy. The cultivated land produces fruits in abundance and of every kind, and the woods contain such abundance of mast, that Rome is principally supplied from the swine fed there. Being well supplied with water, millet grows there in perfection. This affords the greatest security against famine, inasmuch as millet resists any inclemency of the atmosphere, and never fails, even when there is scarcity of other kinds of grain. Their pitch-works are amazing, and their casks give evidence of the abundance of wine: these are made of wood, and are larger than houses, and the great supply of pitch allows them to be sold cheap. The soft wool and by far the best is produced in the country round Mutina1672 and the river Panaro;1673 while the coarse wool, which forms the main article of clothing amongst the slaves in Italy, is produced in Liguria and the country of the Symbri. There is a middling kind grown about Patavium,1674 of which the finer carpets, gausapi,1675 and every thing else of the same sort, whether with the wool on [Pg 325] one or on both sides, are made. The mines are not worked now so diligently, because not equally profitable with those of Transalpine Keltica and Iberia; but formerly they must have been, since there were gold-diggings even in Vercelli, near to Ictimuli,1676 both which villages are near to Placentia.1677 Here we finish our description of the first part of Italy, and pass on to the second.


1. In the second place, we shall treat of that portion of Liguria situated in the Apennines, between the Keltica1678 already described and Tyrrhenia. There is nothing worth mentioning about it, except that the people dwell in villages, ploughing and digging the intractable land, or rather, as Posidonius expresses it, hewing the rocks.

The third division contains the Tyrrhenians, who dwell next the former, and inhabit the plains extending to the Tiber, which river, as far as its outlet, washes the side towards the east, the opposite side being washed by the Tyrrhenian and Sardinian sea. The Tiber flows from the Apennines, and is swelled by many rivers; it flows partly through Tyrrhenia, dividing it in the first instance from Ombrica,1679 afterwards from the Sabini and the Latini, who are situated next Rome as far as the sea-coast; so that these countries are bounded in their breadth by the river [Tiber] and the Tyrrhenians, and in their length by each other. They extend upwards towards the Apennines which approach the Adriatic. The first1680 are the Ombrici, after these the Sabini, and finally the inhabitants of Latium. They all commence from the river. The country of the Latini extends on one side along the sea-coast from Ostia to the city of Sinuessa, on the other it is bounded by the land of the Sabini, (Ostia is the port of Rome, through which the Tiber passes in its course,) it [Pg 326]
[CAS. 219]
extends in length as far as Campania and the Samnitic mountains. The country of the Sabini lies between the Latini and the Ombrici, it likewise extends to the Samnitic mountains, but approaches nearer to the Apennines inhabited by the Vestini, the Peligni, and the Marsi. The Ombrici lie between the country of the Sabini and Tyrrhenia, but extend beyond the mountains as far as Ariminum,1681 and Ravenna. The Tyrrheni, commencing from their own sea and the Tiber, extend to the circular chain of mountains which stretches from Liguria to the Adriatic. We will now enter into a detailed account, commencing with these.

2. The Tyrrheni have now received from the Romans the surname of Etrusci and Tusci. The Greeks thus named them from Tyrrhenus the son of Atys, as they say, who sent hither a colony from Lydia. Atys, who was one of the descendants of Hercules and Omphale, and had two sons, in a time of famine and scarcity determined by lot that Lydus should remain in the country, but that Tyrrhenus, with the greater part of the people, should depart. Arriving here, he named the country after himself, Tyrrhenia, and founded twelve cities, having appointed as their governor Tarcon, from whom the city of Tarquinia [received its name], and who, on account of the sagacity which he had displayed from childhood, was feigned to have been born with hoary hair. Placed originally under one authority, they became flourishing; but it seems that in after-times, their confederation being broken up and each city separated, they yielded to the violence of the neighbouring tribes. Otherwise they would never have abandoned a fertile country for a life of piracy on the sea, roving from one ocean to another; since, when united they were able not only to repel those who assailed them, but to act on the offensive, and undertake long campaigns. After the foundation of Rome, Demaratus arrived here, bringing with him people from Corinth.1682 He was received at Tarquinia, where he had a son, named Lucumo, by a woman of that country.1683 Lucumo becoming the friend of Ancus Marcius, [Pg 327] king of the Romans, succeeded him on the throne, and assumed the name of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus. Both he and his father did much for the embellishment of Tyrrhenia, the one by means of the numerous artists who had followed him from their native country; the other having the resources of Rome.1684 It is said that the triumphal costume of the consuls, as well as that of the other magistrates, was introduced from the Tarquinii, with the fasces, axes, trumpets, sacrifices, divination, and music employed by the Romans in their public ceremonies. His son, the second Tarquin, named Superbus, who was driven from his throne, was the last king [of Rome]. Porsena, king of Clusium,1685 a city of Tyrrhenia, endeavoured to replace him on the throne by force of arms, but not being able he made peace1686 with the Romans, and departed in a friendly way, with honour and loaded with gifts.

3. Such are the facts concerning the celebrity of the Tyrrheni, to which may be added the exploits of the Cæretani,1687 who defeated the Galatæ after they had taken Rome. Having attacked them as they were departing through the country of the Sabini, they took from them, much against their will, the ransom which the Romans had willingly paid to them; besides this, they took under their protection those who fled to them out of Rome, the sacred fire and the priestesses of Vesta.1688 The Romans, influenced by those who then misgoverned the city, seem not to have been properly mindful of this service; for although they conferred on them the rights of citizenship, they did not enrol them amongst the citizens; and further, they inscribed upon the same roll with the Cæretani, others who did not enjoy as great privileges as they did. However, [Pg 328]
[CAS. 220]
amongst the Greeks this city was highly esteemed both for its bravery and rectitude of conduct; for they refrained from piracy, with favourable opportunities for engaging in it, and dedicated at Delphi the treasure, as it was called, of the Agyllæi; for their country was formerly named Agylla, though now Cærea. It is said to have been founded by Pelasgi from Thessaly. The Lydians, who had taken the name of Tyrrheni, having engaged in war against the Agyllæi, one of them, approaching the wall, inquired the name of the city; when one of the Thessalians from the wall, instead of answering the question, saluted him with χαῖρε.1689 The Tyrrheni received this as an omen, and having taken the city they changed its name. This city, once so flourishing and celebrated, only preserves the traces [of its former greatness]; the neighbouring hot springs, named Cæretana,1690 being more frequented than it, by the people attracted thither for the sake of their health.

4. Almost every one is agreed that the Pelasgi were an ancient race spread throughout the whole of Greece, but especially in the country of the Æolians near to Thessaly. Ephorus, however, says that he considers they were originally Arcadians, who had taken up a warlike mode of life; and having persuaded many others to the same course, imparted their own name to the whole, and became famous both among the Greeks, and in every other country where they chanced to come. Homer informs us that there were colonies of them in Crete, for he makes Ulysses say to Penelope—

“Diverse their language is; Achaians some,
And some indigenous are; Cydonians there,
Crest-shaking Dorians, and Pelasgians dwell.”1691

And that portion of Thessaly between the outlets of the Peneius1692 and the Thermopylæ, as far as the mountains of Pindus, is named Pelasgic Argos, the district having formerly belonged to the Pelasgi. The poet himself also gives to Dodonæan Jupiter, the epithet of Pelasgian:—

[Pg 329]

“Pelasgian, Dodonæan Jove supreme.”1693

Many have likewise asserted that the nations of the Epirus are Pelasgic, because the dominions of the Pelasgi extended so far. And, as many of the heroes have been named Pelasgi, later writers have applied the same name to the nations over which they were the chiefs. Thus Lesbos1694 has been called Pelasgic, and Homer has called the people bordering on the Cilices in the Troad Pelasgic:—

“Hippothous from Larissa, for her soil
Far-famed, the spear-expert Pelasgians brought.”1695

Ephorus, when he supposes that they were a tribe of Arcadians, follows Hesiod, who says,

“The sons born of the divine Lycaon, whom formerly Pelasgus begot.”

Likewise Æschylus in his Suppliants, or Danaids, makes their race to be of Argos near Mycenæ. Ephorus likewise says that Peloponnesus was named Pelasgia; and Euripides, in the Archelaus, says,

“Danaus, who was the father of fifty daughters, having arrived in Argos, inhabited1696 the city of Inachus, and made a law that those who had before borne the name of Pelasgiotæ throughout Greece should be called Danai.”

Anticlides says, that they first colonized about Lemnos and Imbros, and that some of their number passed into Italy with Tyrrhenus, the son of Atys. And the writers on the Athenian Antiquities,1697 relate of the Pelasgi, that some of them came to Athens, where, on account of their wanderings, and their settling like birds in any place where they chanced to come, they were called by the Athenians Pelargi.1698

5. They say that the greatest length of Tyrrhenia, which is along the coast from Luna to Ostia, is about 2500 stadia; and that its breadth in the direction of the mountains is less than half that number. Then from Luna to Pisa there are more than 400 stadia; from thence to Volaterræ1699 280; thence to Poplonium 270; [Pg 330]
[CAS. 222]
and from Poplonium to Cossa1700 near 800, or as some say, 600. Polybius, however, says that there are not1701 in all 1330.1702 Of these Luna is a city and harbour; it is named by the Greeks, the harbour and city of Selene.1703 The city is not large, but the harbour1704 is very fine and spacious, containing in itself numerous harbours, all of them deep near the shore; it is in fact an arsenal worthy of a nation holding dominion for so long a time over so vast a sea. The harbour is surrounded by lofty mountains,1705 from whence you may view the sea1706 and Sardinia, and a great part of the coast on either side. Here are quarries of marble, both white and marked with green, so numerous and large, as to furnish tablets and columns of one block; and most of the material for the fine works, both in Rome and the other cities, is furnished from hence. The transport of the marble is easy, as the quarries lie near to the sea, and from the sea they are conveyed by the Tiber. Tyrrhenia likewise supplies most of the straightest and longest planks for building, as they are brought direct from the mountains to the river. Between Luna and Pisa flows the Macra,1707 a division which many writers consider the true boundary of Tyrrhenia and Liguria. Pisa was founded by the Pisatæ of the Peloponnesus, who went under Nestor to the expedition against Troy, but in their voyage home wandered out of their course, some to Metapontium,1708 others to the Pisatis; they were, however, all called Pylians. The city lies between the two rivers Arno1709 and Æsar,1710 at their point of confluence; the former of which, though very full, descends from Arretium1711 not in one body, but divided into three; the second flows [Pg 331] down from the Apennines. Where they fall into one current, the shock between them is so great as to raise the water to that height, that people standing on either bank are not able to see each other; so that necessarily the voyage up from the sea is difficult. This voyage is about 20 stadia. There is a tradition, that when these rivers first descended from the mountains they were impeded by the inhabitants of the district, lest falling together they should inundate the country; however, they promised not to inundate it, and they have kept their word. This city appears to have been formerly flourishing, and at the present day it still maintains its name, on account of its fertility, its marble-quarries, and its wood for building ships, which formerly they employed to preserve themselves from danger by sea; for they were more warlike than the Tyrrheni, and were constantly irritated by the Ligurians, troublesome neighbours, who dwelt on the coast. At the present day the wood is mostly employed for building houses in Rome, and in the country villas [of the Romans], which resemble in their gorgeousness Persian palaces.

6. The country of the Volaterrani1712 is washed by the sea. Their city is situated in a deep hollow on the top of a high hill. The wall of the city is built round its summit, which is flat and precipitous on every side. From its base, the ascent upward is fifteen stadia, steep and difficult. Here certain of the Tyrrhenians and of those proscribed by Sulla,1713 took their stand, and having organized four bands, sustained a siege for two years, and at last secured articles of truce before surrendering the place. Poplonium is situated on a lofty promontory, which projects into the sea, and forms a chersonesus. It likewise sustained a siege about the same time. This little place is now deserted, with the exception of the temples and a few houses; the sea-port, which is situated at the root of the mountain, is better inhabited, having both a small harbour and ship-sheds. This appears to me the only one of the ancient Tyrrhenian cities situated on the sea; the reason being that this territory affords no harbours. The founders [of the cities] therefore either avoided the sea altogether, or threw up fortifications in order that they might not become the ready prey of those who might sail against them. On the [Pg 332]
[CAS. 223]
summit [of the cape] there is a look-out for thunnies.1714 From this city there is an indistinct and distant view of Sardinia. Cyrnus,1715 however, is nearer, being distant from Sardinia about 60 stadia. While Æthalia1716 is much nearer to the continent than either, being distant therefrom only 3001717 stadia, and the same number from Cyrnus. Poplonium is the best starting-place to any of the three mentioned islands. We ourselves observed them from the height of Poplonium, in which place we saw certain mines which had been abandoned, we also saw the craftsmen who work the iron brought from Æthalia; for they cannot reduce it into bars in the furnaces on the island, and it is therefore transferred direct from the mines to the continent. There is another remarkable circumstance, that the exhausted mines of the island in course of time are again refilled similarly to what they say takes place at the platamones1718 in Rhodes, the marble-quarries in Paros, and the salt-mines in India, mentioned by Clitarchus. Eratosthenes was therefore incorrect in saying that from the mainland you could neither see Cyrnus nor Sardinia; and so was Artemidorus in his assertion, that both these places lay in the high sea at a distance of 1200 stadia. For whatever others might, I certainly could never have seen them at such a distance, however carefully I had looked, particularly Cyrnus. Æthalia has a harbour named Argoüs,1719 derived, as they say, from the [ship] Argo, Jason having sailed hither, seeking the abode of Circe as Medea wished to see that goddess; and that from the sweat scraped off by the Argonauts and hardened, are formed the variegated pebbles now seen on the beach.1720 This and similar traditions prove what we before stated, that Homer did not invent them all himself, but, hearing the numerous current stories, he merely transferred the scenes to other localities and exaggerated the distances: as he makes Ulysses wander [Pg 333] over the ocean, so does he narrate of Jason, as he too had been renowned for his travels: and the same he likewise relates of Menelaus. This is what we have to say of Æthalia.

7. Cyrnus is called by the Romans Corsica; it is poorly inhabited, being both rugged and in many parts entirely inaccessible, so that the mountaineers, who live by plunder, are more savage than wild beasts. Whenever any Roman general invades the country, and, penetrating into the wilds, seizes a vast number of slaves, it is a marvel to behold in Rome how savage and bestial they appear. For they either scorn to live, or if they do live, aggravate their purchasers by their apathy and insensibility, causing them to regret the purchase-money, however small.1721 We must remark, however, that some districts are habitable, and that there are some small cities, for instance Blesino, Charax, Eniconiæ, and Vapanes.1722 The chorographer1723 says that the length of this island is 160 miles, its breadth 70; that the length of Sardinia is 220, and its breadth 98. According to others, the perimeter of Cyrnus is said to be about 12001724 stadia, and of Sardinia 4000. A great portion of this latter is rugged and untranquil; another large portion is fertile in every production, but particularly in wheat. There are many cities, some are considerable, as Caralis1725 and Sulchi.1726 There is however an evil, which must be set against the fertility of these places; for during the summer the island is unhealthy, more particularly so in the most fertile districts; in addition to this, it is often ravaged by the mountaineers, whom they call Diagesbes,1727 who formerly were named Iolaënses. For it is said that Iolaus1728 brought hither certain of the children of Hercules, and established himself amongst the barbarian possessors [Pg 334]
[CAS. 225]
of the island, who were Tyrrhenians. Afterwards the Phœnicians of Carthage became masters of the island, and, assisted by the inhabitants, carried on war against the Romans; but after the subversion of the Carthaginians, the Romans became masters of the whole. There are four nations of mountaineers, the Parati, Sossinati, Balari, and the Aconites. These people dwell in caverns. Although they have some arable land, they neglect its cultivation, preferring rather to plunder what they find cultivated by others, whether on the island or on the continent, where they make descents, especially upon the Pisatæ. The prefects sent [into Sardinia] sometimes resist them, but at other times leave them alone, since it would cost too dear to maintain an army always on foot in an unhealthy place: they have, however, recourse to the arts of stratagem, and taking advantage of the custom of the barbarians, who always hold a great festival for several days after returning from a plundering expedition, they then fall upon them, and capture many. There are rams here which, instead of wool, have hair resembling that of a goat; they are called musmones, and the inhabitants make corselets of their hides. They likewise arm themselves with a pelta and a small sword.

8. Along the whole coast between Poplonium and Pisa these islands are clearly visible; they are oblong, and all three nearly parallel,1729 running towards the south and Libya. Æthalia is by far smaller than either of the other two. The chorographer says that the shortest passage from Libya to Sardinia is 3001730 miles. After Poplonium is the city of Cossæ, situated at a short distance from the sea: there is at the head of the bay a high hill upon which it is built; below it lies the port of Hercules,1731 and near to it a marsh formed by the sea.1732 At the summit of the cape which commands the gulf is a look-out for thunnies; for the thunny pursues his course along the coast, from the Atlantic Ocean as far as Sicily, in search not only of acorns, but also of the fish which furnishes the purple dye. As one sails along the coast from Cossæ to Ostia [Pg 335] there are the towns of Gravisci,1733 Pyrgi,1734 Alsium,1735 and Fregena.1736 [From Cossæ] to Gravisci is a distance of 300 stadia, and between them is the place named Regis-Villa. This is said to have been the royal residence of Maleos the Pelasgian; they report that after he had reigned here for some time, he departed with his Pelasgians to Athens. These were of the same tribe as those who occupied Agylla. From Gravisci to Pyrgi is a little less than 180 stadia, and the sea-port town of the Cæretani is 30 stadia farther. [Pyrgi] contains a temple of Ilethyia1737 founded by the Pelasgi, and which was formerly rich, but it was plundered by Dionysius the tyrant of the Sicilians, at the time1738 of his voyage to Cyrnus.1739 From Pyrgi to Ostia is 260 stadia; between the two are Alsium and Fregena. Such is our account of the coast of Tyrrhenia.

9. In the interior of the country, besides the cities already mentioned, there are Arretium,1740 Perusia,1741 Volsinii,1742 Sutrium;1743 and in addition to these are numerous small cities, as Blera,1744 Ferentinum,1745 Falerium,1746 Faliscum,1747 Nepita,1748 Statonia,1749 and many others; some of which exist in their original state, others have been colonized by the Romans, or partially ruined by them in their wars, viz. those they frequently waged against the Veii1750 and the Fidenæ.1751 Some say that the inhabitants of Falerium are not Tyrrhenians, but Falisci, a distinct nation; others state further, that the Falisci speak a language peculiar to themselves; some again would make it Æquum-Faliscum on [Pg 336]
[CAS. 226]
the Via Flaminia, lying between Ocricli1752 and Rome. Below Mount Soracte1753 is the city of Feronia, having the same name as a certain goddess of the country, highly reverenced by the surrounding people: here is her temple, in which a remarkable ceremony is performed, for those possessed by the divinity pass over a large bed of burning coal and ashes barefoot, unhurt. A great concourse of people assemble to assist at the festival, which is celebrated yearly, and to see the said spectacle. Arretium,1754 near the mountains, is the most inland city: it is distant from Rome 1200 stadia: from Clusium1755 [to Rome] is 800 stadia. Near to these [two cities] is Perusia.1756 The large and numerous lakes add to the fertility of this country,1757 they are navigable, and stocked with fish and aquatic birds. Large quantities of typha,1758 papyrus, and anthela1759 are transported to Rome, up the rivers which flow from these lakes to the Tiber. Among these are the lake Ciminius,1760 and those near the Volsinii,1761 and Clusium,1762 and Sabatus,1763 which is nearest to Rome and the sea, and the farthest Trasumennus,1764 near Arretium. Along this is the pass by which armies can proceed from [Cisalpine] Keltica into Tyrrhenia; this is the one followed by Hannibal. There are two; the other leads towards Ariminum across Ombrica, and is preferable as the mountains are considerably lower; however, as this was carefully guarded, Hannibal was compelled to take the more difficult, which he succeeded in forcing after having vanquished Flaminius in a decisive engagement. There are likewise in Tyrrhenia numerous hot springs, which on account of their proximity to Rome, are not less frequented than those of Baiæ, which are the most famous of all.

10. Ombrica lies along the eastern boundary of Tyrrhenia, and commencing from the Apennines, or rather beyond those mountains, [extends] as far as the Adriatic. For commencing [Pg 337] from Ravenna, the Ombrici inhabit the neighbouring country together with the cities of Sarsina, Ariminum,1765 Sena,1766 †and Marinum.†1767 To their country likewise belongs the river Esino,1768 Mount Cingulum, [the city of] Sentinum,1769 the river Metaurus, and the Fanum Fortunæ;1770 for about these parts are the boundaries which separate ancient Italy and [Cisalpine] Keltica on the side next the Adriatic, although the boundary has frequently been changed by the chief men of the state. First they made the Esino the boundary; afterwards the river Rubicon: the Esino being between Ancona and Sena, and the Rubicon between Ariminum and Ravenna, both of them falling into the Adriatic. At the present day, however, since Italy comprehends the whole country as far as the Alps, we need take no further notice of these limits. All allow that Ombrica1771 extends as far as Ravenna, as the inhabitants are Ombrici. From Ravenna to Ariminum they say is about 300 stadia. Going from Ariminum to Rome by the Via Flaminia, the whole journey lies through Ombrica as far as the city of Ocricli1772 and the Tiber, a distance of 1350 stadia. This, consequently, is the length [of Ombrica]; its breadth varies. The cities of considerable magnitude situated on this side the Apennines along the Via Flaminia, are Ocricli on the Tiber, Laroloni,1773 and Narnia,1774 through which the Nera1775 flows. This river discharges itself into the Tiber a little above Ocricli; it is not navigable for large vessels. After these are Carsuli and Mevania,1776 past which latter the Teneas1777 flows, by which river the merchandise of the plain is transported in small vessels to the Tiber. There are also other cities well populated, rather on account of the route along which they lie, than for their political importance. Such are Forum Flaminium,1778 Nuceria1779 where wooden vases are manufactured, and Forum Sempronium.1780 Going from Ocricli to Ariminum, on the right of the [Pg 338]
[CAS. 228]
way are Interamna,1781 Spoletium,1782 Asisium,1783 and Camerta, situated in the mountains which bound Picenum. On the other side1784 are Ameria,1785 Tuder,1786 a well-fortified city, Hispellum,1787 and Iguvium,1788 near to the passes of the mountain. The whole of this country is fertile, but rather too mountainous, and producing more rye1789 than wheat for the food of the inhabitants. The next district, Sabina, is mountainous, and borders on Tyrrhenia in like manner. The parts of Latium which border on these districts and the Apennines are very rugged. These two nations1790 commence from the Tiber and Tyrrhenia, and extend as far as the Apennines which advance obliquely towards the Adriatic: Ombrica extends, as we have said, beyond as far as the sea. We have now sufficiently described the Ombrici.


1. The Sabini occupy a narrow country, its length from the Tiber and the small city of Nomentum1791 to the Vestini being 1000 stadia. They have but few cities, and these have suffered severely in their continual wars [with the Romans]. Such are Amiternum1792 and Reate,1793 which is near to the village of Interocrea1794 and the cold waters at Cotyliæ, which are taken by patients, both as drink and as baths, for the cure of various maladies. The rocks of Foruli,1795 likewise, belong to the Sabini; fitted rather for rebellion than peaceable habitation. Cures is now a small village, although formerly a famous city: whence came Titus Tatius and Numa Pompilius, kings of Rome. From this place is derived the name of Quirites, which the orators give to the Romans when they address the people. Trebula,1796 Eretum,1797 and other similar places, must [Pg 339] be looked upon rather as villages than cities. The whole land [of Sabina] is singularly fertile in olive-trees and vines, it produces also many acorns, and besides has excellent cattle: the mules bred at Reate1798 are much celebrated. In one word the whole of Italy is rich both in cattle and vegetable productions; although certain articles may be finer in some districts than in others. The race of the Sabini is extremely ancient, they are Autochthones. The Picentini and Samnitæ descend from them, as do the Leucani from these latter, and the Bruttii again from these. A proof of their antiquity may be found in the bravery and valour which they have maintained till the present time. Fabius,1799 the historian, says that the Romans first knew what wealth was when they became masters of this nation. The Via Salaria, which however does not extend far, runs through their country: the Via Nomentana, which commences likewise at the Porta Collina, falls in with the Via Salaria near to Eretum, a village of Sabina lying above the Tiber.

2. Beyond Sabina is Latium, wherein the city of Rome is situated. It comprises many places which formed no part of ancient Latium. For the Æqui, the Volsci, the Hernici, the aborigines around Rome, the Rutuli who possessed ancient Ardea, and many other nations, some larger, some smaller, formed so many separate states around Rome, when that city was first built. Some of these nations, who dwelt in villages, were governed by their own laws, and subjected to no common tribe. They say1800 that Æneas, with his father Anchises and his child Ascanius, arrived at Laurentum,1801 near to Ostia and the bank of the Tiber, where he built a city about 24 stadia above the sea. That Latinus, the king of the aborigines who then dwelt on the site where Rome now stands, employed his forces to aid Æneas against the neighbouring Rutuli who inhabited Ardea, (now from Ardea to Rome is a distance of 160 stadia,) and having gained a victory, he built near to the spot a city, to which he gave the name of his daughter Lavinia. However, in a second battle, commenced by the Rutuli, Latinus fell, and Æneas, being conqueror, succeeded [Pg 340]
[CAS. 229]
this prince on the throne, and conferred on his subjects the name of Latini. After the death both of himself and his father, Ascanius founded Alba,1802 on Mount Albanus,1803 situated about the same distance from Rome as Ardea. Here Romans and Latini conjointly offer sacrifice to Jupiter. The magistracy all assemble, and during the period of the solemnity the government of the city is intrusted to some distinguished youth. The facts related of Amulius and his brother Numitor, some of which are fictitious, while others approach nearer the truth, occurred four hundred years later. These two brothers, who were descended from Ascanius, succeeded conjointly to the government of Alba, which extended as far as the Tiber. However, Amulius the younger, having expelled the elder, governed [alone]. Numitor had a son and a daughter; the former Amulius treacherously murdered in the chase; the latter, that she might remain childless, he made a priestess of Vesta, thus imposing virginity upon her. This [daughter] they name Rhea Silvia. Afterwards he discovered that she was pregnant, and when she had given birth to twins, he, out of respect to his brother, placed her in confinement, instead of putting her to death, and exposed the boys by the Tiber according to a national usage. According to the mythology, Mars was the father of these children, and when they were exposed they were discovered and suckled by a she-wolf. Faustulus, one of the swine-herds of the place, took and reared them up, and named one Romulus, the other Remus. (We must understand that Faustulus, who took them up and nourished them, was an influential man, and a subject of Amulius.) Having arrived at man’s estate, they waged war upon Amulius and his sons; and having slain them, restored the government to Numitor. They then returned home and founded Rome, in a locality selected rather through necessity than choice, as the site was neither fortified by nature, nor sufficiently large for a city of importance. In addition to this, the neighbourhood supplied no inhabitants; for those who dwelt around, even though touching the very walls of the newly founded city, kept to themselves, and [Pg 341] would have nothing at all to do with the Albani. Collatia, Antemnæ, Fidenæ, Labicum,1804 and similar places are here alluded to which then were small cities, but are now villages possessed by private individuals; they are distant from Rome 30 or 401805 stadia, or rather more. Between the fifth and sixth mile-stone which marks the distance from Rome there is a place named Festi; this they say was at that time the limit of the Roman territory, and at the present day, both here and in numerous other places which they consider to have been boundaries, the priests offer the sacrifice denominated Ambarvia.1806 They say that, at the time of the foundation [of the [Pg 342]
[CAS. 230]
city], a dispute arose in which Remus lost his life. The city being built, Romulus assembled men from every quarter, and instituted for an asylum a grove between the citadel and the Capitol, to which whoever fled from the neighbouring states, he proclaimed as Roman citizens. Not having wives for these men, he appointed a horse-race in honour of Neptune, which is celebrated to this day. Numbers [of spectators] having assembled, particularly of the Sabini, he commanded that each of those who were in want of a wife, should carry off one of the assembled maidens. Titus Tatius, king of the Quirites, took up arms to avenge the insult, but made peace with Romulus on condition that their kingdoms should be united, and that they should divide the sovereignty between [Pg 343] them. Tatius, however, was treacherously assassinated in Lavinium, upon which Romulus, with the consent of the Quirites, reigned alone. After him Numa Pompilius, formerly a subject of Tatius, assumed the government, by the general desire of the people. Such is the most authentic account of the foundation of Rome.

3. However, there also exists another more ancient and mythical account, to the effect that Rome was an Arcadian colony planted by Evander. He entertained Hercules when driving the oxen of Geryon, and being informed by his mother Nicostrata, (who was skilled in the art of prophecy,) that when Hercules should have completed his labours it was fore-ordained that he should be enrolled amongst the gods; he informed him of the matter, consecrated to him a grove, and offered sacrifice to him after the Grecian mode; a sacrifice which is continued in honour of Hercules to this day. The Roman historian Cœlius is of opinion that this is a proof that Rome is a Grecian colony, the sacrifice to Hercules after the Grecian mode having been brought over from their fatherland. The Romans also worship the mother of Evander under the name of Carmentis,1807 considering her one of the nymphs.

4. Thus then the Latini originally were few in number, and for the most part under no subjection to the Romans; but afterwards, being struck by the valour of Romulus and the kings who succeeded him, they all submitted. But the Æqui,1808 the Volsci, the Hernici; and before them the Rutuli, the aborigines, the Rhæci, together with certain of the [Pg 344]
[CAS. 231]
Argyrusci and the Preferni,1809 being subdued, the whole of their different countries were included under the name of Latium. To the Volsci pertained the Pomentine plain, bordering on the territory of the Latini, and the city of Apiola, levelled to the ground1810 by Tarquinius Priscus. The Æqui principally were neighbours to the Quirites, whose cities Tarquinius Priscus likewise devastated. His son took Suessa,1811 the metropolis of the Volsci. The Hernici dwelt near to Lanuvium, Alba, and to Rome itself; neither were Aricia,1812 the Tellenæ, and Antium1813 at any great distance. The Albani were at first friendly with the Romans, speaking as they did the same language, and being likewise of the Latin stock; and though they were under separate governments, this did not prevent them from marrying together, nor from performing in common the sacred ceremonies at Alba, and other civil rites. In after-time, however, war having sprung up, Alba was entirely destroyed with the exception of the temple, and the Albani were declared citizens of Rome. Of the other surrounding cities, those which resisted were either destroyed or enfeebled, while others, which were friendly to the Romans, flourished. At the present day the coast from Ostia to the city of Sinuessa1814 is denominated the Latin coast; formerly the country thus designated extended only so far as Circæum.1815 The interior also [of Latium] was formerly small; but it afterwards extended to Campania, the Samnitæ, the Peligni,1816 and other nations dwelling around the Apennines.

5. The whole [of Latium] is fertile, and abounding in every production, with the exception of a few districts along the coast, which are marshy and unhealthy; such as the country of Ardea, the lands between Antium and Lanuvium as far as Pometia, and certain of the districts of Setia,1817 Terracina, and Circæum. Some parts may also be too mountainous [Pg 345] and rocky; but even these are not absolutely idle and useless, since they furnish abundant pasturage, wood, and the peculiar productions of the marsh and rock; while Cæcubum, which is entirely marshy, nourishes a vine, the dendritis,1818 which produces the most excellent wine. Of the maritime cities of Latium, one is Ostia. This city has no port, owing to the accumulation of the alluvial deposit brought down by the Tiber, which is swelled by numerous rivers; vessels therefore bring to anchor further out, but not without danger; however, gain overcomes every thing, for there is an abundance of lighters in readiness to freight and unfreight the larger ships, before they approach the mouth of the river, and thus enable them to perform their voyage speedily. Being lightened of a part of their cargo, they enter the river and sail up to Rome, a distance of about 190 stadia. Such is the city of Ostia, founded by Ancus Martius. Next in order comes Antium, which city is likewise destitute of any port; it is situated on rocks, and about 260 stadia distant from Ostia. At the present day it is devoted to the leisure and recreation of statesmen from their political duties, whenever they can find time, and is in consequence covered with sumptuous mansions suited to such rusticating. The inhabitants of Antium had formerly a marine, and even after they were under subjection to the Romans, took part with the Tyrrhenian pirates. Of this, first, Alexander sent to complain; after him Demetrius, having taken many of these pirates, sent them to the Romans, saying that he would surrender them their persons on account of their affinity to the Greeks, and remarking at the same time, that it seemed to him a great impropriety, that those who held sway over the whole of Italy should send out pirates, and that they who had consecrated in their forum a temple to the honour of the Dioscuri,1819 whom all denominated the Saviours, should likewise send to commit acts of piracy on Greece, which was the fatherland of those divinities. Hereupon the Romans put a stop to this occupation [piracy]. Between these two cities is Lavinium, which contains a temple of Venus common to all the Latini, the care of which is intrusted to the priests of [Pg 346]
[CAS. 232]
Ardea. After this is Laurentum;1820 and above these lies Ardea, a colony of the Rutuli, 70 stadia from the sea; near to it is another temple of Venus, where all the Latini hold a public festival. These regions have been ravaged by the Samnitæ, and only the traces of the cities left; but even these are reverenced on account of the arrival of Æneas here, and of the religious rites which they say were bequeathed from those times.

6. At 290 stadia from Antium is Mount Circæum, insulated by the sea and marshes. They say that it contains numerous roots, but this perhaps is only to harmonize with the myth relating to Circe. It has a small city, together with a temple to Circe and an altar to Minerva; they likewise say that a cup is shown which belonged to Ulysses. Between [Antium and Circæum] is the river Stura,1821 which has a station for ships: the rest of the coast is exposed to the sout-hwest wind,1822 with the exception of this small harbour of Circæum.1823 Above this, in the interior, is the Pomentine plain: the region next to this was formerly inhabited by the Ausonians, who likewise possessed Campania: next after these the Osci, who also held part of Campania; now, however, as we have remarked, the whole, as far as Sinuessa, belongs to the Latini. A peculiar fate has attended the Osci and Ausonians; for although the Osci have ceased to exist as a distinct tribe, their dialect is extant among the Romans, dramatic and burlesque pieces composed in it being still represented at certain games which were instituted in ancient times. And as for the Ausonians, although they never have dwelt by the sea of Sicily,1824 it is named the Ausonian Sea. At 100 stadia from Circæum is Tarracina, formerly named Trachina,1825 on account of its ruggedness; before it is a great marsh, formed by two rivers, the larger of which is called the Aufidus.1826 This is the first place where the Via Appia approaches the sea. This [Pg 347] road is paved from Rome to Brundusium,1827 and has great traffic. Of the maritime cities, these alone are situated on it; Tarracina, beyond it Formiæ,1828 Minturnæ,1829 Sinuessa,1830 and towards its extremity Tarentum and Brundusium. Near to Tarracina, advancing in the direction of Rome, a canal runs by the side of the Via Appia, which is supplied at intervals by water from the marshes and rivers. Travellers generally sail up it by night, embarking in the evening, and landing in the morning to travel the rest of their journey by the way: however, during the day the passage boat is towed by mules.1831 Beyond is Formiæ, founded by the Lacedæmonians, and formerly called Hormiæ, on account of its excellent port. Between these [two cities],1832 is a gulf which they have named Caiata,1833 in fact all gulfs are called by the Lacedæmonians Caietæ: some, however, say that the gulf received this appellation from [Caieta], the nurse of Æneas. From Tarracina to the promontory of Caiata is a length of 100 stadia. Here1834 are opened vast caverns, which contain large and sumptuous mansions. From hence to Formiæ is a distance of 40 stadia. Between this city and Sinuessa, at a distance of about 80 stadia from each, is Minturnæ. The river Liris,1835 formerly named the Clanis, flows through it. It descends from the Apennines, passes through the country of the Vescini,1836 and by the village of Fregellæ, (formerly a famous city,) and so into a sacred grove situated below the city, and held in great veneration by the people of Minturnæ. There are two islands, named Pandataria and Pontia,1837 lying in the high sea, and clearly discernible from the caverns. Although small, they are well inhabited, are not at any great distance from each other, and at 250 stadia from the mainland. Cæcubum is situated on the gulf of Caiata, and next to it Fundi, a city on the Via Appia. All these places produce excellent wines; but those of Cæcubum, Fundi, and Setia1838 are most in repute, and so are the Falernian, Alban,1839 and Statanian wines. Sinuessa is situated in a gulf from which it takes its name, sinus signifying [Pg 348]
[CAS. 234]
[in Latin] a gulf. Near to it are some fine hot-baths, good for the cure of various maladies. Such are the maritime cities of Latium.

7. In the interior, the first city above Ostia is Rome; it is the only city built on the Tiber. It has been remarked above, that its position was fixed, not by choice, but necessity; to this must be added, that those who afterwards enlarged it, were not at liberty to select a better site, being prevented by what was already built. The first [kings] fortified the Capitol, the Palatium, and the Collis Quirinalis, which was so easy of access, that when Titus Tatius came to avenge the rape of the [Sabine] virgins, he took it on the first assault. Ancus Marcius, who added Mount Cælius and the Aventine Mount with the intermediate plain, separated as these places were both from each other and from what had been formerly fortified, was compelled to do this of necessity; since he did not consider it proper to leave outside his walls, heights so well protected by nature, to whomsoever might have a mind to fortify themselves upon them, while at the same time he was not capable of enclosing the whole as far as Mount Quirinus. Servius perceived this defect, and added the Esquiline and Viminal hills. As these were both of easy access from without, a deep trench was dug outside them and the earth thrown up on the inside, thus forming a terrace of 6 stadia in length along the inner side of the trench. This terrace he surmounted with a wall flanked with towers, and extending from the Colline1840 to the Esquiline gate. Midway along the terrace is a third gate, named after the Viminal hill. Such is the Roman rampart, which seems to stand in need of other ramparts itself. But it seems to me that the first [founders] were of opinion, both in regard to themselves and their successors, that Romans had to depend not on fortifications, but on arms and their individual valour, both for safety and for wealth, and that walls were not a defence to men, but men were a defence to walls. At the period of its commencement, when the large and fertile districts surrounding the city belonged to others, and while it lay easily open to assault, there was nothing in its position which could be looked upon as favourable; but when by valour and labour these districts became its own, there succeeded a tide of prosperity surpassing [Pg 349] the advantages of every other place. Thus, notwithstanding the prodigious increase of the city, there has been plenty of food, and also of wood and stone for ceaseless building, rendered necessary by the falling down of houses, and on account of conflagrations, and of the sales, which seem never to cease. These sales are a kind of voluntary falling down of houses, each owner knocking down and rebuilding one part or another according to his individual taste. For these purposes the numerous quarries, the forests, and the rivers which convey the materials, offer wonderful facilities. Of these rivers, the first is the Teverone,1841 which flows from Alba, a city of the Latins near to the country of the Marsi, and from thence through the plain below this [city], till it unites with the Tiber. After this come the Nera1842 and the Timia,1843 which passing through Ombrica fall into the Tiber, and the Chiana,1844 which flows through Tyrrhenia and the territory of Clusium.1845 Augustus Cæsar endeavoured to avert from the city damages of the kind alluded to, and instituted a company of freedmen, who should be ready to lend their assistance in cases of conflagration;1846 whilst, as a preventive against the falling of houses, he decreed that all new buildings should not be carried so high as formerly, and that those erected along the public ways should not exceed seventy feet in height.1847 But these improvements must have ceased only for the facilities afforded by the quarries, the forests, and the ease of transport.

8. These advantages accrued to the city from the nature of the country; but the foresight of the Romans added others [Pg 350]
[CAS. 235]
besides. The Grecian cities are thought to have flourished mainly on account of the felicitous choice made by their founders, in regard to the beauty and strength of their sites, their proximity to some port, and the fineness of the country. But the Roman prudence was more particularly employed on matters which had received but little attention from the Greeks, such as paving their roads, constructing aqueducts, and sewers, to convey the sewage of the city into the Tiber. In fact, they have paved the roads, cut through hills, and filled up valleys, so that the merchandise may be conveyed by carriage from the ports. The sewers, arched over with hewn stones, are large enough in some parts for waggons loaded with hay to pass through; while so plentiful is the supply of water from the aqueducts, that rivers may be said to flow through the city and the sewers, and almost every house is furnished with water-pipes and copious fountains. To effect which Marcus Agrippa directed his special attention; he likewise bestowed upon the city numerous ornaments. We may remark, that the ancients, occupied with greater and more necessary concerns, paid but little attention to the beautifying of Rome. But their successors, and especially those of our own day, without neglecting these things, have at the same time embellished the city with numerous and splendid objects. Pompey, divus Cæsar, and Augustus, with his children, friends, wife, and sister, have surpassed all others in their zeal and munificence in these decorations. The greater number of these may be seen in the Campus Martius, which to the beauties of nature adds those of art. The size of the plain is marvellous, permitting chariot-races and other feats of horsemanship without impediment, and multitudes to exercise themselves at ball,1848 in the circus1849 and the palæstra. The structures which surround it, the turf covered with herbage all the year round, [Pg 351] the summits of the hills beyond the Tiber, extending from its banks with panoramic effect, present a spectacle which the eye abandons with regret. Near to this plain is another surrounded with columns, sacred groves, three theatres, an amphitheatre, and superb temples in close contiguity to each other; and so magnificent, that it would seem idle to describe the rest of the city after it. For this cause the Romans, esteeming it as the most sacred place, have there erected funeral monuments to the most illustrious persons of either sex. The most remarkable of these is that designated as the Mausoleum,1850 which consists of a mound of earth raised upon a high foundation of white marble, situated near the river, and covered to the top with ever-green shrubs. Upon the summit is a bronze statue of Augustus Cæsar, and beneath the mound are the ashes1851 of himself, his relatives, and friends. Behind is a large grove containing charming promenades. In the centre of the plain,1852 is the spot where this prince was reduced to ashes; it is surrounded with a double enclosure, one of marble, the other of iron, and planted within with poplars. If from hence you proceed to visit the ancient forum, which is equally filled with basilicas, porticos, and temples, you will there behold the Capitol, the Palatium, with the noble works which adorn them, and the piazza of Livia, each successive place causing you speedily to forget what you have before seen. Such is Rome.

9. Of the other cities of Latium, some are distinguished by a variety of remarkable objects, others by the celebrated roads which intersect Latium, being situated either upon, or near to, or between these roads, the most celebrated of which are the Via Appia, the Via Latina, and the Via Valeria. The former of these bounds the maritime portion of Latium, as far as Sinuessa, the latter extends along Sabina as far as the Marsi, whilst between these is the Via Latina, which falls in with the Via Appia near to Casilinum,1853 a city distant from Capua1854 19 stadia. The Via Latina commences from the Via Appia, branching from it towards the left, near to Rome. It passes over the Tusculan mountain, between the city of Tusculum1855 and Mount Albanus; it then descends to the little city of Algidum,1856 and the Pictæ tavern; afterwards the Via [Pg 352]
[CAS. 237]
Lavicana joins it, which commences, like the Via Prænestina, from the Esquiline gate. This road, as well as the Esquiline plain, the Via Lavicana leaves on the left; it then proceeds a distance of 120 stadia, or more, when it approaches Lavicum, an ancient city now in ruins, situated on an eminence; this and Tusculum it leaves on the right, and terminates near to Pictæ in the Via Latina. This place is 210 stadia distant from Rome. Proceeding thence along the Via Latina there are noble residences, and the cities Ferentinum,1857 Frusino,1858 by which the river Cosa flows, Fabrateria,1859 by which flows the river Sacco,1860 Aquinum,1861 a large city, by which flows the great river Melfa,1862 Interamnium, situated at the confluence of two rivers, the Garigliano and another, Casinum, also an important city, and the last of those belonging to Latium. For Teanum, called Sidicinum,1863 which lies next in order, shows by its name that it belongs to the nation of the Sidicini. These people are Osci, a surviving nation of the Campani, so that this city, which is the largest of those situated upon the Via Latina, may be said to be Campanian; as well as that of Cales,1864 another considerable city which lies beyond, and is contiguous to Casilinum.1865

10. As to the places situated on either side of the Via Latina, those on the right are between it and the Via Appia; of their number are Setia1866 and Signia,1867 which produce wine, that of Setia being one of the dearest wines, and that called Signium the best for strengthening the stomach. Before this1868 are Privernum,1869 Cora,1870 Suessa,1871 ‘Trapontium,’1872 Velitræ,1873 Aletrium,1874 and also Fregellæ,1875 by which the Garigliano flows, which discharges itself [into the sea] near Minturnæ. Fregellæ, though now a village, was formerly a considerable city, and the chief of the surrounding places we have just named. Even now their inhabitants throng to it on market days, and [Pg 353] for the performance of certain religious solemnities. Its defection from the Romans was the cause of its ruin.1876 Both these, and also the cities lying on the Via Latina and beyond, situated in the territories of the Hernici, Æqui, and Volsci, were for the most part founded by the Romans. To the left of the Via Latina, the cities between it and the Via Valeria, are, Gabii,1877 standing in the Via Prænestina, it possesses a stone-quarry, in greater demand at Rome than any other, and is at an equal distance of about 100 stadia between Rome and Præneste.1878 Then Præneste, of which we shall have occasion presently to speak. Then, in the mountains above Præneste, Capitulum, a small city of the Hernici, and Anagnia,1879 a considerable city; Cereate,1880 and Sora, by which the river Garigliano1881 flows as it passes on to Fregellæ, and Minturnæ. After these there are other places, and finally, Venafrum,1882 from whence comes the finest oil. This city is situated on a high hill by the foot of which flows the Volturno,1883 which passing by Casilinum,1884 discharges itself [into the sea] at a city1885 bearing the same name as itself. Æsernia1886 and Alliphæ,1887 cities of the Samnites, the former was destroyed in the Marsian war,1888 the other still remains.

11. The Via Valeria, commencing from Tibura,1889 leads to the country of the Marsi, and to Corfinium,1890 the metropolis of the Peligni. Upon it are situated the Latin cities of Valeria,1891 Carseoli,1892 Alba,1893 and near to it the city of Cuculum.1894 Within sight of Rome are Tibura, Præneste, and Tusculum.1895 At Tibura is a temple of Hercules, and a cataract formed by the fall of the Teverone,1896 (which is here navigable,) from a great height into a deep and wooded ravine close to the city. From thence the river flows through a highly fertile plain along by [Pg 354]
[CAS. 238]
the Tiburtine stone-quarries, those of the Gabii, and those denominated the red-stone quarries. As both the carriage from the quarries and the conveyance by river are easy, most of the Roman edifices are built of materials from hence. In this plain flow the cold waters called Albula, they spring from numerous fountains, and are taken both as a beverage and as baths,1897 for the cure of various diseases. Of the same kind are the Labanæ,1898 not far from these, on the Via Nomentana, and near to Eretum.1899 At Præneste is the celebrated temple and oracle of Fortune. Both this and the preceding city are situated on the same chain of mountains, and are distant from each other 100 stadia. Præneste is 200 stadia from Rome, Tibura less than that distance. They are said to be both of Grecian foundation, Præneste being formerly named Polystephanus. They are both fortified, but Præneste is the stronger place of the two, having for its citadel a lofty mountain, which overhangs the town, and is divided at the back from the adjoining mountain range by a neck of land. This mountain is two stadia higher than the neck in direct altitude. In addition to these [natural] defences, the city is furnished on all sides with subterraneous passages, which extend to the plains, and some of which serve to convey water, while others form secret ways; it was in one of these that Marius1900 perished, when he was besieged. Other cities are in most instances benefited by a strong position, but to the people of Præneste it has proved a bane, owing to the civil wars of the Romans. [Pg 355] For hither the revolutionary movers take refuge, and when at last they surrender, in addition to the injury sustained by the city during the war, the country is confiscated, and the guilt thus imputed to the guiltless. The river Verestis1901 flows through this region. The said cities are to the east of Rome.

12. But within-side the chain of mountains, [where these cities are situated,] there is another ridge, leaving a valley between it and Mount Algidus; it is lofty, and extends as far as Mount Albanus.1902 It is on this ridge that Tusculum is situated, a city which is not wanting in adornment, being entirely surrounded by ornamental plantations and edifices, particularly that part of it which looks towards Rome. For on this side Tusculum presents a fertile hill, well irrigated, and with numerous gentle slopes embellished with majestic palaces. Contiguous are the undulating slopes of Mount Albanus, which are equally fertile and ornamented. Beyond are plains which extend some of them to Rome and its environs, others to the sea; these latter are unhealthy, but the others are salubrious and well cultivated. Next after Albanum is the city Aricia, on the Appian Way. It is 160 stadia from Rome. This place is situated in a hollow, and has a strong citadel.1903 Beyond it on one side of the way is Lanuvium,1904 a Roman city on the right of the Via Appia, and from which both the sea and Antium may be viewed. On the other side is the Artemisium,1905 which is called Nemus,1906 on the left side of the way, leading from Aricia to the temple.1907 They say that it is consecrated to Diana Taurica, and certainly the rites performed in this temple are something barbarous and Scythic. They appoint as priest a fugitive who has murdered the preceding priest with his own hand. Apprehensive of an attack upon himself, the priest is always armed with a sword, ready for resistance. The temple is in a grove, and before it is a [Pg 356]
[CAS. 240]
lake of considerable size. The temple and water are surrounded by abrupt and lofty precipices, so that they seem to be situated in a deep and hollow ravine. The springs by which the lake is filled are visible. One of these is denominated Egeria, after the name of a certain divinity; however, their course on leaving the lake is subterraneous, but they may be observed at some distance, when they rise to the surface of the ground.

13. Near to these localities is Mount Albanus,1908 which is much higher than either the Artemisium or the heights surrounding it, although these are sufficiently lofty and precipitous. It has likewise a lake,1909 much larger than that of the Artemisium. Further forward than these are the cities on the Via Latina, we have already mentioned. Alba1910 is the most inland of all the Latin cities; it borders on the Marsi, and is situated on a high hill near to Lake Fucinus. This [lake] is vast as a sea, and is of great service to the Marsi and all the surrounding nations. They say, that at times its waters rise to the height of the mountains which surround it, and at others subside so much, that the places which had been covered with water reappear and may be cultivated; however, the subsidings of the waters occur irregularly and without previous warning, and are followed by their rising again; the springs fail altogether and gush out again after a time; as they say is the case with the Amenanus,1911 which flows through Catana,1912 for after remaining dry for a number of years, it again flows. It is reported that the Marcian1913 water, which is drunk at Rome in preference to any other, has its source in [Lake] Fucinus. As Alba is situated in the depths of the country, and is besides a strong position, the Romans have often employed it as a place of security, for lodging important prisoners.1914

[Pg 357]


1. After having commenced with the nations about the Alps, and the Apennine mountains which are near to these, we proceeded from thence and passed through that portion of the hither country lying between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Apennine mountains, which incline towards the Adriatic, as far as the Samnites and the Campani. We will now return again, and describe the mountaineers, and those who dwell at the foot of the mountains; whether on the coast of the Adriatic, or in the interior. Thus, we must recommence from the boundaries of Keltica.1915

2. After the cities of the Ombrici, which are comprised between Ariminum1916 and Ancona, comes Picenum. The Picentini proceeded originally from the land of the Sabini. A woodpecker led the way for their chieftains, and from this bird they have taken their name, it being called in their language Picus, and is regarded as sacred to Mars. They inhabit the plains extending from the mountains to the sea; the length of their country considerably exceeds its breadth; the soil is every where good, but better fitted for the cultivation of fruits than grain. Its breadth, from the mountains to the sea varies in different parts. But its length; from the river Æsis1917 to Castrum,1918 sailing round the coast, is 800 stadia. Of its cities, Ancona is of Grecian origin, having been founded by the Syracusans who fled from the tyranny of Dionysius. It is situated upon a cape, which bending round towards the north forms a harbour; and it abounds in wine and wheat. Near to it is the city of Auxumon,1919 at a little distance from the sea. After it are Septempeda,1920 Pneuentia,1921 Potentia,1922 and Firmum Picenum,1923 with its port of Castellum.1924 Beyond, is the temple of Cupra,1925 built and dedicated by the Tyrrheni to Juno, who is named by them Cupra; and after it the river Tronto,1926 [Pg 358]
[CAS. 241]
with a city of the same name.1927 Beyond this is Castrum Novum,1928 and the river Piomba,1929 flowing from the city of Adria,1930 and having [at its mouth] the naval station of Adria, which bears the same name as itself. In the interior is [the city of Adria] itself and Asculum Picenum,1931 a very strong position, upon which is built a wall: the mountains which surround it are not accessible to armies.1932 Above Picenum are the Vestini,1933 the Marsi,1934 the Peligni,1935 the Marucini,1936 and the Frentani,1937 a Samnitic nation possessing the hill-country, and extending almost to the sea. All these nations are small, but extremely brave, and have frequently given the Romans proofs of their valour, first as enemies, afterwards as allies; and finally, having demanded the liberty and rights of citizens, and being denied, they revolted and kindled the Marsian war.1938 They decreed that Corfinium,1939 the metropolis of the Peligni, should be the capital for all the Italians instead of Rome: made it their place d’armes, and new-named it Italica. Then, having convoked deputies from all the people friendly to their design, they created consuls1940 and prætors, and maintained the war for two1941 years, until they had obtained the rights for which they struggled. The war was named the Marsian1942 war, because [Pg 359] that nation commenced the insurrection, and particularly on account of Pompædius.1943 These nations live generally in villages, nevertheless they are possessed of certain cities, some of which are at some little distance from the sea, as Corfinium, Sulmo,1944 Maruvium,1945 and Teatea1946 the metropolis of the Marrucini. Others are on the coast, as Aternum1947 on the Picentine boundary, so named from the river [Aternus], which separates the Vestini from the Marrucini. This river flows from the territory of Amiternum and through the Vestini, leaving on its right the Marrucini, who lie above the Peligni, [at the place where the river] is crossed by a bridge. The city, which bears the same name, (viz. Aternum,) belongs to the Vestini, but its port is used in common both by the Peligni and the Marrucini. The bridge I have mentioned is about 24 stadia from Corfinium. After Aternum is Orton,1948 a naval arsenal of the Frentani, and Buca,1949 which belongs to the same people, and is conterminous with the Apulian Teanum.1950 †Ortonium1951 is situated in the territory of the Frentani. It is rocky, and inhabited by banditti, who construct their dwellings of the wrecks of ships, and lead otherwise [Pg 360]
[CAS. 242]
a savage life.† Between Orton and Aternum is the river Sagrus,1952 which separates the Frentani from the Peligni. From Picenum to the Apuli, named by the Greeks the Daunii,1953 sailing round the coast, is a distance of about 4901954 stadia.

3. Next in order after Latium is Campania, which extends along the [Tyrrhenian] Sea; above it is Samnium, in the interior, extending as far as the Frentani and Daunii; and beyond are the Daunii, and the other nations as far as the Strait of Sicily. We shall in the first place speak of Campania. From Sinuessa1955 to Misenum1956 the coast forms a vast gulf; beyond this is another gulf still larger, which they name the Crater.1957 It is enclosed by the two promontories of Misenum and the Athenæum.1958 It is along the shores of these [two gulfs] that the whole of Campania is situated. This plain is fertile above all others, and entirely surrounded by fruitful hills and the mountains of the Samnites and Osci. Antiochus says that this country was formerly inhabited by the Opici, and that these were called Ausones. Polybius appears to consider these as two people, for he says that the Opici and Ausones inhabit the country around the Crater.1959 Others, however, state that it was originally inhabited by Opici and Ausones, but was afterwards seized on by a nation of the Osci, who were driven out by the Cumæi, and these again by the Tyrrheni. Thus the possession of the plain was much disputed on account of its great fertility. [They add that the Tyrrheni] built there twelve cities, and named the metropolis Capua. But luxury having made them effeminate, in the same way that they had formerly been driven from the banks of the Po, they were now forced to abandon this country to the Samnites; who in their turn fell before the Romans. One proof of the fertility of this country is, that it produces the finest corn. I allude to the grain from which a groat is made superior to all kinds of rice, and to almost all other farinacious food. They say that some of the plains are cropped all the year round; twice with rye, the third time with [Pg 361] panic, and occasionally a fourth time with vegetables. It is likewise from hence that the Romans procure their finest wines, the Falernian, the Statanian, and the Calenian. That of Surrentum1960 is now esteemed equal to these, it having been lately discovered that it can be kept to ripen. In addition to this, the whole country round Venafrum, bordering on the plains, is rich in olives.

4. The maritime cities [of Campania], after Sinuessa, are Liternum,1961 where is the sepulchral monument of the first of the two Scipios, surnamed Africanus; it was here that he passed the last days of his life, having abandoned public affairs in disgust at the intrigues of certain opponents. A river of the same name1962 flows by this city. In like manner the Vulturnus bears the same name as the city1963 founded on it, which comes next in order: this river flows through Venafrum1964 and the midst of Campania. After these [cities] comes Cumæ,1965 the most ancient settlement1966 of the Chalcidenses and Cumæans, for it is the oldest of all [the Greek cities] in Sicily or Italy. The leaders of the expedition, Hippocles the Cumæan and Megasthenes of Chalcis, having mutually agreed that one of the nations should have the management of the colony, and the other the honour of conferring upon it its own name. Hence at the present day it is named Cumæ, while at the same time it is said to have been founded by the Chalcidenses. At first this city was highly prosperous, as well as the Phlegræan1967 plain, which mythology has made the scene of the adventures of the giants, for no other reason, as it appears, than because the fertility of the country had given rise to battles for its possession. Afterwards, however, the Campanians becoming masters1968 of the city, inflicted much injustice on the inhabitants, [Pg 362]
[CAS. 243]
and even violated their wives. Still, however, there remain numerous traces of the Grecian taste, their temples, and their laws. Some are of opinion that Cumæ was so called from τὰ κύματα, the waves, the sea-coast near it being rocky and exposed. These people have excellent fisheries. On the shores of this gulf there is a scrubby forest, extending over numerous acres of parched and sandy land. This they call the Gallinarian1969 wood. It was there that the admirals of Sextus Pompeius assembled their gangs of pirates, at the time when he drew Sicily into revolt.1970

5. Near to Cumæ is the promontory of Misenum,1971 and between them is the Acherusian Lake,1972 which is a muddy estuary of the sea. Having doubled Misenum, you come to a harbour at the very foot of the promontory. After this the shore runs inland, forming a deeply indented bay, on which are Baïæ and the hot springs, much used, both as a fashionable watering-place, and for the cure of diseases. Contiguous to Baïæ is the Lucrine Lake,1973 and within this the Lake Avernus,1974 which converts into a peninsula the land stretching from the maritime district, situated between it and Cumæ, as far as Cape Misenum, for there is only an isthmus of a few stadia, across which a subterraneous road is cut [from the head of the gulf of Avernus] to Cumæ and the sea [shore] on which it stands. Former writers, mingling fable with history, have applied to Avernus the expressions of Homer in his Invocation of Departed Spirits,1975 and relate that here formerly was an oracle of the dead,1976 and that it was to this place that Ulysses came. However, this gulf of Avernus is deep even near the shore, with an excellent entrance, and is both as to its size and nature a harbour; but it is not used, on account of the Lucrine Gulf which lies before it, and is both large and somewhat shallow. The Avernus is surrounded with steep hills which encompass the whole of it, with the exception [Pg 363] of the entrance. These hills, now so beautifully cultivated were formerly covered with wild forests, gigantic and impenetrable, which overshadowed the gulf, imparting a feeling of superstitious awe. The inhabitants affirm that birds, flying over the lake, fall into the water,1977 being stifled by the vapours rising from it, a phenomenon of all Plutonian1978 localities. They believed, in fact, that this place was a Plutonium, around which the Kimmerians used to dwell, and those who sailed into the place made sacrifice and propitiatory offerings to the infernal deities, as they were instructed by the priests who ministered at the place. There is here a spring of water near to the sea fit for drinking, from which, however, every one abstained, as they supposed it to be water from the Styx: [they thought likewise] that the oracle of the dead was situated some where here; and the hot springs near to the Acherusian Lake indicated the proximity of Pyriphlegethon. Ephorus, peopling this place with Kimmerii, tells us that they dwell in under-ground habitations, named by them Argillæ, and that these communicate with one another by means of certain subterranean passages; and that they conduct strangers through them to the oracle, which is built far below the surface of the earth. They live on the mines together with the profits accruing from the oracle, and grants made to them by the king [of the country]. It was a traditional custom for the servants of the oracle never to behold the sun, and only to quit their caverns at night. It was on this account that the poet said,

“On them the Sun
Deigns not to look with his beam-darting eye.”1979

At last, however, these men were exterminated by one of the kings, the oracle having deceived him; but [adds Ephorus] the oracle is still in existence, though removed to another [Pg 364]
[CAS. 245]
place. Such were the myths related by our ancestors. But now that the wood surrounding the Avernus has been cut down by Agrippa, the lands built upon, and a subterranean passage cut from Avernus to Cumæ, all these appear fables. Perhaps1980 Cocceius, who made this subterranean passage,1981 wished to follow the practice of the Kimmerians we have already described, or fancied that it was natural to this place that its roads should be made under-ground.

6. The Lucrine gulf extends in breadth as far as Baïæ; it is separated from the sea by a bank eight stadia in length, and the breadth of a carriage-way; this they say was constructed by Hercules when he drove away the oxen of Geryon. But as the wave covered its surface in stormy weather, rendering it difficult to pass on foot, Agrippa has repaired it. Small vessels can put into it, but it is useless as a harbour.1982 It contains abundant oyster-beds. Some take this to be the Acherusian Lake, while Artemidorus confounds it with Avernus. They say that Baïæ took its name from Baïus one of the companions of Ulysses, and Misenum from Misenus. Beyond is the strand and city of Dicæarchia. Formerly it was nothing but a naval station of the Cumæi. It was built on an eminence. But at the time of the war with Hannibal, the Romans established a colony there, and changed its name into Puteoli,1983 [an appellation derived] from its wells; or, according to others, from the stench of its waters, the whole district from hence to Baïæ and Cumæ being full of sulphur, fire, and hot-springs. Some too are of opinion that it was on this account [that the country about] Cumæ was named Phlegra, and that the fables of the giants struck down by thunderbolts owe their origin to these eruptions of fire and water. This city has become a place of extensive commerce, having artificially constructed harbours, which were much facilitated by [Pg 365] the facile nature of the sand, which contains much gypsum, and will cement and consolidate thoroughly. For mixing this sand with chalk-stones they construct moles in the sea, thus forming bays along the open coast, in which the largest transport ships may safely ride. Immediately above the city lies the Forum-Vulcani,1984 a plain surrounded with hills which seem to be on fire, having in many parts mouths emitting smoke, frequently accompanied by a terrible rumbling noise; the plain itself is full of drifted sulphur.

7. After Dicæarchia is Neapolis,1985 [founded1986 originally] by the Cumæi, but afterwards being peopled by Chalcidians, and certain Pithecussæans and Athenians,1987 it was on this account denominated Naples.1988 Here is pointed out the tomb of Parthenope, [Pg 366]
[CAS. 246]
one of the sirens, and a gymnastic sport is celebrated by command of an oracle. In course of time the inhabitants, having disagreed amongst themselves, admitted certain Campanians; thus being forced to regard in the light of friends those most inimical to them, since their friends were hostile. This is proved by the names of their demarchi, the earlier of which are Grecian, but the latter a mixture of Campanian with the Grecian names. Many traces of Grecian institution are still preserved, the gymnasia, the ephebeia,1989 the fratriæ,1990 and the Grecian names of people who are Roman citizens. At the present time they celebrate, every fifth year, public games for music and gymnastic exercises during many days, which rival the most famous games of Greece. There is here a subterranean passage, similar to that at Cumæ,1991 extending for many stadia along the mountain,1992 between Dicæarchia1993 and Neapolis: it is sufficiently broad to let carriages pass each other, and light is admitted from the surface of the mountain, by means of numerous apertures cut through a great depth.1994 Naples also has hot springs and baths not at all inferior in quality to those at Baïæ, but much less frequented, for another city has arisen there, not less than Dicæarchia, one palace after another having been built. Naples still preserves the Grecian mode of life, owing to those who retire hither from Rome for the sake of repose, after a life of labour from childhood, and to those whose age or weakness demands relaxation. Besides these, Romans who find attractions in this style of life, and observe the numbers of persons dwelling there, are attracted by the place, and make it their abode.

8. Following this is the fortress of Heraclæum,1995 built upon [Pg 367] a promontory which projects out into the sea, and which, on account of the prevalence of the south-west wind, is a very healthy spot. The Osci1996 originally possessed both this and Pompeia,1997 which is next to it, by which the river Sarno1998 flows; afterwards the Tyrrheni and Pelasgi,1999 and then the Samnites2000 obtained possession of them, and the last2001 in their turn were driven from these regions. Pompeia is the port for Nola,2002 Nuceria,2003 and Acerræ, which bears the same name as the city near to Cremona. It is built on the river Sarno, by which merchandise is received and exported. Above these places is Mount Vesuvius, which is covered with very beautiful fields, excepting its summit, a great part of which is level, but wholly sterile. It appears ash-coloured to the eye, cavernous hollows appear formed of blackened stones, looking as if they had been subjected to the action of fire. From this we may infer that the place was formerly in a burning state with live craters, which however became extinguished on the failing of the fuel. Perhaps this [volcano] may have been the cause of the fertility of the surrounding country, the same as occurs in Catana, where they say that that portion which has been covered with ashes thrown up by the fires of Ætna is most excellent for the vine. The land about Vesuvius contains fat, and a soil which has been subjected to fire, and is very strong and productive of fruit: when this fat superabounds, it is apt, like all sulphurous substances, to take fire, but being dried up by evaporation, extinguished, and pulverized, it becomes a productive earth. Adjoining [Pg 368]
[CAS. 247]
Pompeia is Surrentum,2004 [a city] of the Campanians, from whence the Athenæum,2005 called by some the promontory of the Sirenusæ, projects [into the sea]; upon its summit is the temple of Minerva, founded by Ulysses. From hence to the island of Capreas the passage is short; after doubling the promontory you encounter various desert and rocky little islands, which are called the Sirenusæ.2006 On the side towards Surrentum there is shown a temple with the ancient offerings of those who held this place in veneration. Here is the end of the bay named Crater,2007 which is bounded by the two promontories of Misenum2008 and the Athenæum, both looking towards the south. The whole is adorned by the cities we have described, by villas, and plantations, so close together that to the eye they appear but one city.

9. In front of Misenum lies the island of Prochyta,2009 which has been rent from the Pithecussæ.2010 Pithecussæ was peopled by a colony of Eretrians and Chalcidians, which was very prosperous on account of the fertility of the soil and the productive gold-mines; however, they abandoned the island on account of civil dissensions, and were ultimately driven out by earthquakes, and eruptions of fire, sea, and hot waters. It was on account of these eruptions, to which the island is subject, that the colonists sent by Hiero,2011 the king of Syracuse, abandoned the island, together with the town which they had built, when it was taken possession of by the Neapolitans. This explains the myth concerning Typhon, who, they say, lies beneath the island, and when he turns himself, causes flames and water to rush forth, and sometimes even small [Pg 369] islands to rise in the sea, containing springs of hot water. Pindar throws more credibility into the myth, by making it comformable to the actual phenomena, for the whole strait from Cumæa to Sicily is subigneous, and below the sea has certain galleries which form a communication between [the volcanos2012 of the islands2013] and those of the mainland. He shows that Ætna is on this account of the nature described by all, and also the Lipari Islands, with the regions around Dicæarchia, Neapolis, Baïæ, and the Pithecussæ. And mindful hereof, [Pindar] says that Typhon lies under the whole of this space.

“Now indeed the sea-girt shores beyond Cumæ, and Sicily, press on his shaggy breast.”2014

Timæus,2015 who remarks that many paradoxical accounts were related by the ancients concerning the Pithecussæ, states, nevertheless, that a little before his time, Mount Epomeus,2016 in the middle of the island, being shaken by an earthquake, vomited forth fire; and that the land between it and the coast was driven out into the sea. That the powdered soil, after being whirled on high, was poured down again upon the island in a whirlwind. That the sea retired from it to a distance of three stadia, but after remaining so for a short time it returned, and inundated the island, thus extinguishing the fire. And that the inhabitants of the continent fled at the noise, from the sea-coast, into the interior of Campania. It seems that the hot-springs2017 here are a remedy for those afflicted with gravel. Capreæ2018 anciently possessed two small cities, afterwards but one. The Neapolitans possessed this island, but having lost Pithecussæ in war, they received it again from Cæsar Augustus, giving him in exchange Capreæ. This [island] having thus become the property of that prince, he [Pg 370]
[CAS. 248]
has ornamented it with numerous edifices. Such then are the maritime cities of Campania, and the islands lying opposite to it.

10. In the interior is the metropolis, Capua, being, as the etymon of the name signifies, the head; for in regard to it all the other cities appear small, excepting Teanum-Sidicinum,2019 which is a very considerable place. This city lies on the Via Appia, as also the others which lead from hence to Brundusium, [viz.] Callateria,2020 Caudium,2021 and Beneventum.2022 On the side of Rome is Casilinum,2023 situated on the river Vulturnus.2024 Here 540 men of Præneste sustained against Hannibal in the height of his power so desperate a siege, that by reason of the famine, a rat2025 was sold for two hundred drachmæ, the seller dying [of hunger], but the purchaser being saved. Hannibal observing some of them sowing turnip-seed near to the wall, admired, as well he might, the patient courage of these men, who hoped to hold out in the mean while, until these turnips should be ready for food. However, we are assured that they all survived, with the exception of a few who perished either by famine or in war.

11. In addition to those just spoken of, there are these Campanian cities which we have already mentioned, viz. Cales,2026 and Teanum-Sidicinum, the limits of which are respectively marked out by the two temples of Fortune situated on either side of the Via Latina. Besides these are Suessula,2027 Atella,2028 Nola,2029 Nuceria,2030 Acerræ,2031 Abella,2032 with [Pg 371] other smaller settlements, some of which are said to be Samnite.2033 The Samnites, by making incursions into Latium as far as Ardea, and afterwards devastating Campania itself, greatly extended their power. The Campanians, being otherwise accustomed to a despotic government, yielded ready obedience to their commands. At the present day they have been almost entirely exterminated by the various Roman generals, and last of all by Sulla, who was absolute master of the republic. He, after having by numerous battles extinguished the Italian revolt, observing that the Samnites, almost without exception, remained in one body, and with one sole intention, so that they had even marched upon Rome itself, gave them battle under the walls, and as he had issued orders to make no prisoners, many of them were cut to pieces on the field, while the remainder, said to be about three or four thousand men, who threw down their arms, were led off to the Villa Publica in the Campus Martius, and there shut in; three days after soldiers were sent in who massacred the whole; and when [Sulla] drew up his conscription list, he did not rest satisfied until he had destroyed, or driven from Italy, every one who bore a Samnite name. To those who reproached him for this animosity, he replied that he had learned by experience that not a single Roman could rest in peace so long as any of the Samnites survived. Thus their cities have now dwindled into villages, some indeed being entirely deserted, as Boianum,2034 Æsernia,2035 Panna, Telesia2036 adjoining Venafrum, and others similar, none of which can be looked upon as cities; but in a country so renowned and powerful as Italy, we thought proper to mention places even of second-rate importance. [We should add that] Beneventum2037 and Venusia2038 are still prosperous.

12. The following is the tradition concerning the [origin of the] Samnites. The Sabines having been engaged for [Pg 372]
[CAS. 250]
a long period in war with the Ombrici, made a vow, common with some of the Grecian nations, that they would consecrate to the gods the productions of the year.2039 They were victorious, and accordingly of the productions,2040 the one kind were sacrificed, the other consecrated. However, in a time of scarcity, some one remarked, that they ought likewise to have consecrated the children. This then they did, and the children born at that period were called the sons of Mars.2041 When these had grown up to manhood, they were sent forth, a bull leading the way, to found a colony. The bull lay down to rest in a place belonging to the Opici; a people dwelling in villages. These they drove out, and established themselves in the place. The bull, according to the direction of the diviners, they sacrificed to Mars, who had given him to them as a leader. It seems to have been in allusion to this that their parents called them by the diminutive form of Sabelli.2042 The name of Samnites, or, as the Greeks call them, Saunites, originated in another cause. It is also said that certain Lacedæmonians came to dwell amongst them, and that this is the reason of their affection for the Greeks, and that certain of them are called Pitanatæ.2043 The whole of this, however, appears to be a mere fabrication of the Tarentini, interested in flattering and conciliating to themselves a neighbouring people, so powerful as to be able, on a time, to bring into the field a force of eighty thousand foot-soldiers, and eight thousand cavalry. There is said to be a law amongst the Samnites, excellent in itself, and calculated to excite to virtue. It is not lawful for fathers to give away their daughters to whomsoever they may please; but every year ten of the most virtuous young women, and ten of the most virtuous young men, are selected; of these the most excellent young man is married to the most excellent young woman, the second to the second, and so on in order. Should he who receives [Pg 373] this reward, afterwards change and become wicked, he is dishonoured, and the wife who had been given is taken away from him. Beyond are the Hirpini, who are also Samnites: their name they take from the wolf, which conducted their colony; a wolf being called by the Samnites hirpos: these people border on the Leucani in the interior. So much for the Samnites.

13. The fertility of their country has been productive to the Campanians of as much evil as good. Their luxury ran to such a height, that they would invite to supper, in order to exhibit pairs of fighting gladiators, the exact number of pairs being regulated according to the distinction of the guests. When, on their voluntary submission to Hannibal, they received his soldiers into winter quarters,2044 the pleasures [of the place] rendered the men so effeminate, that Hannibal said, although conqueror, that he was in danger of the enemy, since his soldiers were returned to him women, and no longer men. When the Romans obtained the mastery,2045 they inflicted on them numerous ills, and ended by distributing their land by lot.2046 At the present day they are living in prosperity, and on friendly terms with the [Roman] colonists, and preserve their ancient reputation, both in respect to the size of their city and the numbers of their population. Beyond Campania and the Samnites,2047 and upon the Tyrrhenian Sea, dwells the nation of the Picentini. This is a small off-shoot from the Picentini who dwell near the Adriatic, and was transplanted by the Romans to the Posidoniate Gulf,2048 now called the Gulf of Pæstum. The city of Posidonia, which is built about the middle of the gulf, is called Pæstum.2049 The Sybarites [when they founded the city2050] built the fortifications close upon the sea, but the inhabitants removed higher up. In after time2051 the Leucani seized upon the city, but in their turn were deprived of it by the Romans.2052 It is rendered unhealthy by a river2053 [Pg 374]
[CAS. 251]
which overflows the marshy districts in the neighbourhood. Between the Sirenussæ and Posidonia2054 is Marcina,2055 a city founded by the Tyrrheni, but inhabited by the Samnites. [To go] from thence into Pompæa,2056 through Nuceria,2057 [you cross] an isthmus of not more than 120 stadia. The Picentes extend as far as the river Silaro,2058 which separates their country on this side from ancient Leucania.2059 The water of this river is reported to possess the singular property of petrifying any plant thrown into it, preserving at the same time both the colour and form.2060 Picentia was formerly the capital of the Picentes; but they now dwell in villages, having been ejected by the Romans2061 for taking part with Hannibal. Also, instead of doing military service, it has been decreed that they shall be the public daily couriers and letter-carriers; [a penalty] which for the same cause has been likewise inflicted on the Leucani and Bruttii. To keep them in check, the Romans fortified Salernum, which is a little above the sea. The distance from the Sirenussæ to the Silaro is 260 stadia.

[Pg 375]




The Sixth Book contains the remainder of Italy, and the regions within the Adriatic, as far as Macedonia; likewise a description of Apulia, Calabria, the country by the Ionian Gulf, together with the adjacent islands, from Sicily to the Ceraunian mountains, and on the other side as far as Carthage, and the small islands lying near to it.


1. After the mouth of the Silaro,2062 is Leucania, and the temple of Argive Juno, founded by Jason. Near to this, within 50 stadia, is Posidonia.2063 Sailing thence, towards the high sea, is the island of Leucosia,2064 at a little distance from the mainland. It bears the name of one of the Sirens, who according to the mythology was cast up here, after having been precipitated with her companions into the deep. The promontory2065 of the island projects opposite the Sirenussæ,2066 forming the bay of Posidonium.2067 After having made this cape there is another contiguous bay, on which is built the city which the Phocæans called Hyela when they founded it, but others Ela from a certain fountain. People in the present day call it Elea. It is here that Parmenides and Zeno, the Pythagorean philosophers, were born. And it is my opinion that through the instrumentality of those men, as well as by previous good management, the government of that place was well arranged, so that they successfully resisted the Leucani and the Posidoniatæ, notwithstanding the smallness of their district and the inferiority of their numbers. They are [Pg 376]
[CAS. 252]
compelled, therefore, on account of the barrenness of the soil, to apply to maritime trade chiefly, to employ themselves in the salting of fish, and in such other occupations. Antiochus2068 says that when Phocea was taken by Harpagus, the general of Cyrus, those who had the means embarked with their families, and sailed under the conduct of Creontiades, first to Cyrnos and Marseilles, but having been driven thence, they founded Elea;2069 the name of which some say is derived from the river Elees.2070 The city is distant about two hundred stadia from Posidonia. After this city is the promontory of Palinurus. But in front of the Eleatis are the Œnotrides, two islands2071 having good anchorage.2072 And beyond Palinurus are the promontory, harbour, and river of Pyxus;2073 the three having the same name. This colony was founded2074 by Micythus, then governor of Messina in Sicily; but those who were located here, except a few, abandoned the place. After Pyxus are the gulf,2075 the river,2076 and the city2077 of Laüs. This, the last2078 city of the Leucani, situate a little above the sea, is a colony2079 of the Sybarites, and is distant from Elea 400 stadia. The whole circuit of Leucania, by sea is 650 stadia. Near to Laüs is seen the tomb of Draco, one of the companions of Ulysses, and the oracular response, given to the Italian Greeks, alludes to him:

[Pg 377]

“Some day, around the Dragon’s stony tomb,
A mighty multitude shall meet their doom.”

For the Greeks of Italy, enticed by this prophecy, marched against Laüs and were defeated by the Leucani.2080

2. Such, along the shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea, are the possessions of the Leucani, which at first did not reach to the other sea;2081 the Greeks who dwelt on the Gulf of Tarentum possessed it. But before the coming of the Greeks there were no Leucani, the Chones2082 and Œnotri possessed these territories. But when the Samnites had greatly increased, and expelled the Chones and Œnotri, and driven the Leucani into this region, while the Greeks possessed the sea-coast on both sides as far as the straits, the Greeks and the Barbarians maintained a lengthened contest. The tyrants of Sicily, and afterwards the Carthaginians, at one time making war against the Romans, for the acquisition of Sicily, and at another, for Italy itself, utterly wasted all these regions. The Greeks, however, succeeded in depriving the ancient inhabitants of a great portion of the midland country, beginning even as early as the Trojan war; they increased in power, and extent of territory, to such a degree, that they called this region and Sicily, the Magna Græcia. But now the whole region, except Tarentum, Rhegium, and Neapolis, has become barbarian,2083 and belongs partly to the Leucani and Bruttii, partly to the Campani; to these, however, only in name, but truly to the Romans; for these people have become Roman. However, it is incumbent on one who is treating of universal [Pg 378]
[CAS. 253]
geography, to speak both of things as they now are, and of some of those that have been, and especially when they are important. Of the Leucani, who border upon the Tuscan Sea, mention has already been made; those who possess the midland regions dwell above the Gulf of Tarentum, but these, as well as the Bruttii, and the Samnites themselves, the progenitors of both, have been so maltreated [by the Romans], that it is difficult to determine the boundaries of each people. The reason of this is, that there no longer remains separately any of the institutions common to these nations; and their peculiarities of language, of military and civil costume, and such particulars, have passed away; besides, even their places of abode, considered separately and apart, possess nothing worthy of observation.

3. We will narrate in a general manner what we have gathered concerning the Leucani, who dwell in the interior, without too much care in distinguishing them from their neighbours, the Samnites. Petilia2084 is considered as the metropolis of the Leucani, and is still well peopled. It owes its foundation to Philoctetes, who was compelled to quit Melibœa on account of civil dissensions. Its position is so strong, that the Samnites were formerly obliged to construct forts around it for the defence of their territory. The ancient Crimissa, situated near these places, was also founded by Philoctetes. Apollodorus, in his description of the ships [of the Greeks], narrates concerning Philoctetes, that, according to certain writers, this prince having disembarked in the district of Crotona, settled on the promontory of Crimissa, and built the city of Chone2085 above it, from which the inhabitants were called Chones; and that certain colonists being sent by him into Sicily, to the neighbourhood of Eryx,2086 with Ægestus the [Pg 379] Trojan, founded Ægesta.2087 In the inland districts are also Grumentum,2088 Vertinæ,2089 Calasarna,2090 and other small villages, reaching as far as Venusia,2091 a city of some importance. This, however, I consider to be a Samnite city, as are also those which are next met with on going into Campania. Above the Thurii lies the district called Tauriana.2092 The Leucani are of Samnite origin. Having vanquished the Posidoniates and their allies, they took possession of their cities. At one time the institutions of the Leucani were democratic, but during the wars a king was elected by those who were possessed of chief authority: at the present time they are Roman.

4. The Bruttii occupy the remainder of the coast as far as the Strait of Sicily, extending about 1350 stadia. Antiochus, in his treatise on Italy, says that this district, which he intended to describe, was called Italy, but that previously it had been called Œnotria. The boundary which he assigns to it on the Tyrrhenian Sea, is the river Lao,2093 and on the Sea of Sicily Metapontium, the former of which we have given as the boundary of the Bruttii. He describes Tarentum, which is next to Metapontium,2094 as beyond Italy, calling it Iapygian. He also relates that, at a more ancient period, those who dwelt on this side the isthmus, which lies next the Strait of Sicily, were the only people who were called Œnotrians and Italians. The isthmus is 160 stadia across between the two gulfs, namely, that of Hipponium,2095 which Antiochus called Napitinus, and [Pg 380]
[CAS. 255]
that of Scylletium.2096 The circumnavigation of the peninsula, which is comprised between this isthmus and the strait, is 2000 stadia. He says that afterwards the names of Italy and of the Œnotrians were extended as far as Metapontium and the Siritis; the Chones, a people of Œnotrian descent, and highly civilized, inhabited these districts, and called their country Chone. However, this author has written in a very loose and old-fashioned manner, without giving any definite boundaries to the Leucani and Bruttii. Now Leucania is situated on the Tyrrhenian and Sicilian Seas, extending on one coast from the Silaro2097 to the river Lao, and on the other from Metapontium2098 to Thurii. Along the continent it stretches from the country of the Samnites, as far as the isthmus between Thurii and Cerilli,2099 near the Lao. This isthmus is 300 stadia2100 across. Beyond are the Bruttii, who dwell on the peninsula; in this is included another peninsula, which is bounded by the isthmus between Scylletium2101 and the Hipponiate gulf.2102 The nation received its appellation from the Leucani, for they call runaways Bruttii, and they say that formerly they ran away from them when employed as shepherds, and that afterwards their independence was established through the weakness [of the Leucani], when Dion [of Syracuse] was prosecuting a war against [the younger] Dionysius, and fomented hostilities amongst all.2103 This is all we shall remark as to the Leucani and Bruttii.

[Pg 381] 5. From the Lao the first city is the Temesa2104 of the Bruttii, which at present is called Tempsa. It was founded by the Ausonians; afterwards the Ætolians, under the command of Thoas, gained possession of it. These were expelled by the Bruttii; Hannibal and the Romans have overthrown the Bruttii.2105 In the vicinity of Temesa is the Heroum of Polites, one of the companions of Ulysses. It is surrounded by a thick grove of wild olives. He was treacherously slain by the barbarians, and became in consequence very wrathful, and his shade so tormented the inhabitants that they submitted to pay him a tribute, according to the direction of a certain oracle. Thus it became a proverb amongst them, “Let no one offend the hero of Temesa,” for they said that [for a long time he2106] had tormented them. But when the Epizephyrian Locrians took the city, they feign that Euthymus the pugilist went out against him, and having overcome him in fight, constrained him to free the inhabitants from tribute.2107 They say that the poet intended this Temesa, and not the Tamassus2108 in Cyprus, (for it is said that the words are suitable to either,2109) when he sings,

[Pg 382]
[CAS. 256]

“in quest of brass
To Temesa.”2110

and certain copper-mines are pointed out near to the place, which are now exhausted. Contiguous to it is Terina,2111 which Hannibal destroyed, when he found he could no longer retain it; at the time when he took refuge in the country of the Bruttii.2112 Next in order comes Cosentia,2113 the metropolis of the Bruttii. A little above it is Pandosia, which is strongly fortified, before which Alexander the Molossian king was overthrown. This prince was led astray by the oracle of Dodona, which commanded him to avoid Acheron and Pandosia;2114 for places with names like these being pointed out in Thesprotia, caused him to lose his life2115 here. The position has three summits, and the river Acheron flows by it. He was also mistaken in another oracle,

“O Pandosia, thou three-topp’d hill,
Hereafter many people thou shalt kill;”

for he thought that it foreshowed the destruction of his enemies, and not of his own people. They say that Pandosia2116 [Pg 383] was formerly the residence of the Œnotrian kings. After Cosentia is Hipponium,2117 founded by the Locrians.2118 The Romans took it from the Bruttii, who were in possession of it at a subsequent period, and changed the name into Vibo-Valentia.2119 And because the meadows in its vicinity are luxuriant and full of flowers, it is supposed that Proserpine came over from Sicily to gather them, and from thence the custom among women of this city, to gather flowers and plait garlands, prevailed to such an extent, that they now think it shameful to wear purchased garlands at the festivals.2120 It also possesses a harbour2121 made by Agathocles,2122 the tyrant of Sicily, when he was in possession of the town. On sailing hence to the Portus Herculis,2123 we come to the point where the headlands of Italy, as they stretch towards the Strait [of Sicily], begin to turn westward. In this voyage we pass Medma,2124 a city of the same Locrians,2125 which bears the name of a copious fountain, and possessing at a short distance a naval station, called Emporium.2126 Very nigh is the river Metauro,2127 as also a naval station bearing the same name.2128 The Lipari Isles lie off this coast; they are distant 200 stadia from the strait. They say that they are the islands of Æolus, of whom the poet makes [Pg 384]
[CAS. 257]
mention in the Odyssey.2129 They are seven in number, and are all easily distinguished both from Sicily and the coast of the continent about Medma. We will speak of them in particular when we describe Sicily. After the river Metaurus, there is another Metaurus.2130 Next in order is Scyllæum, an elevated cliff nearly surrounded by the sea. But connected with the mainland by a low isthmus easily accessible on either side, which Anaxilaus, the tyrant of Rhegium, fortified against the Tyrrheni, and formed a commodious haven, and thus prevented the pirates from passing through the strait. Next to the Scyllæan promontory was that of Cænys, distant from Medma 250 stadia. It is the last headland, and forms the narrowest part of the Strait [of Sicily], being opposite to Cape Pelorus on the Sicilian side, which is one of the three points which give to that island the form of a triangle. Its aspect is towards the rising of the sun in summer, whilst that of Cænys looks towards the west. Indeed they both seem to have diverged from the general line of coast in order to stand out opposite each other.2131 From Cænys to the Posidonium2132 [and] the Columna Rheginorum,2133 the narrow part of the strait stretches as much as 6 stadia, the shortest passage across the strait is a little more. From the Columna [Rheginorum] [Pg 385] to Rhegium, where the strait begins to widen, is a hundred [stadia] as you advance in a direction towards the exterior and eastern sea, which is called the sea of Sicily.

6. Rhegium2134 was founded by certain Chalcidenses, who, as they say, were decimated as an offering to Apollo in a time of scarcity, by order of an oracle, and afterwards removed hither from Delphi, taking with them certain others from home. As Antiochus says, the Zanclæans sent for the Chalcidenses, and appointed Antimnestus chief over them. Certain fugitives of the Messenians of Peloponnesus accompanied this colony, who had been compelled to fly by those who refused to give satisfaction to the Lacedæmonians for the violation2135 of the virgins at Limnæ, whom they had abused when attending the religious festival, and had slain those who assisted them. However when the fugitives had removed to Macistus, they sent to the oracle complaining against Apollo and Diana for suffering these things to happen notwithstanding they so greatly honoured them, and inquiring how the devoted might be saved. Apollo commanded to send them with the Chalcidenses to Rhegium, and to be grateful, therefore, to his sister Diana for that they were not lost but saved, as they should not be destroyed with their country, which would be annihilated shortly after by the Spartans.2136 They acted in accordance with the oracle, and thus it was that the rulers of the Rhegini were all of Messenian race until the time of Anaxilaus.

Antiochus asserts that anciently the whole of this district was inhabited by Sicilians and Morgetes; and that they [Pg 386]
[CAS. 258]
afterwards passed into Sicily when they were expelled by the Œnotri. Some say that Morgantium2137 thus received its name from the Morgetes. But the city of the Rhegini became very powerful, and possessed many dependent settlements. It has always been a bulwark for us against the island [of Sicily], and, indeed, has recently served to that purpose when Sextus Pompeius alienated Sicily.2138 It was called Rhegium either, as Æschylus says, because of the convulsion which had taken place in this region; for Sicily was broken from the continent by earthquakes,

“Whence it is called Rhegium.”2139

Others,2140 as well as he, have affirmed the same thing, and adduce as an evidence that which is observed about Ætna, and the appearances seen in other parts of Sicily, the Lipari and neighbouring islands, and even in the Pithecussæ, with the whole coast beyond them, which prove that it was not unlikely that this convulsion had taken place. But now these mouths being opened, through which the fire is drawn up, and the ardent masses and water poured out, they say that the land in the neighbourhood of the Strait of Sicily rarely suffers from the effects of earthquakes; but formerly all the passages to the surface being blocked up, the fire which was smouldering beneath the earth, together with the vapour, occasioned terrible earthquakes, and the regions, being disturbed by the force of the pent-up winds, sometimes gave way, and being rent received the sea, which flowed in from either side; and thus were formed both this strait and the sea which surrounds the other islands in the neighbourhood. For Prochyta2141 and the [Pg 387] Pithecussæ, as well as Capreæ, Leucosia, the Sirenes, and the Œnotrides, are but so many detached fragments from the continent, but other islands have risen from the bottom of the sea, a circumstance which frequently occurs in many places; for it is more reasonable to think that the islands in the midst of the sea have been raised up from the bottom, and that those which lie off headlands and are separated merely by a strait were broken off from them. Still it is beside our purpose to investigate thoroughly whether the name were given to the city for these causes, or whether it were named by the Samnites from the Latin word regium, which signifies royal, on account of its importance,2142 for their chieftains participated in the privileges of citizenship with the Romans, and generally used the Latin language. But Dionysius (the elder), having been treated with contempt by them, destroyed the illustrious city which had founded many towns and produced many distinguished characters, whether statesmen or men of letters,2143 for when he sought a consort from their city, they offered him the hangman’s daughter;2144 but his son (Dionysius the younger) partly restored it,2145 and called it Phœbia. During the war with Pyrrhus, a body of Campanians destroyed most of the citizens against the faith of treaties,2146 and a little [Pg 388]
[CAS. 259]
before the Marsic or social war, earthquakes destroyed most of the towns;2147 but after Augustus Cæsar had driven Sextus Pompeius out of Sicily, when he saw that the city was deficient of inhabitants, he appointed certain of those who accompanied the expedition to reside there, and it is now tolerably well peopled.2148

7. Sailing 50 stadia from Rhegium towards the east, we meet the cape called Leucopetra, from the colour of the rock, where they say the range of the Apennines terminates.2149 Further on is Heraclæum.2150 It is the last promontory, and looks towards the south; for presently on doubling it the course takes a south-western direction as far as the promontory of Iapygia,2151 then it runs towards the north more and more, and towards the west along the Ionian gulf. After the Herculeum Promontorium is the headland of Locris, which is called Zephyrium,2152 possessing a haven exposed to the west winds, whence is derived its name. Then is the state of the Locri Epizephyrii, a colony of Locrians transported by Evanthes from the Crissæan gulf, shortly after the foundation of Crotona and Syracuse.2153 Ephorus was not correct in stating [Pg 389] that they were a colony of the Locri Opuntii.2154 They remained at first during three or four years at Cape Zephyrium; afterwards they removed their city, with the assistance of certain Syracusans who dwelt amongst them. There is also a fountain called Locria in the place where the Locri first took up their abode. From Rhegium to the Locri there are 600 stadia. The city is built on a height, which they call Esopis.2155

8. The Locri are believed to have been the first who committed their laws to writing, but after they had enjoyed the advantage of these good laws for a very considerable time, Dionysius [the younger], having been expelled2156 from Syracuse, found means to abuse them in a most abominable manner, for he, entering into a private chamber where certain young brides had been adorned for their nuptials, violated them; he also gathered the most beautiful virgins to his revels, and having liberated doves with uncut wings, commanded the young women to chase them round the apartment in a state of perfect nudity, while on some he bound sandals of unequal height, one being high and the other low, in order to make their appearance in the pursuit the more unseemly. However he paid dearly for this, for having returned to Sicily to resume his government, the Locri overpowered the guard he had left in their city, freed themselves, and obtained possession of his wife and children; there were two of his daughters, and his second son who had already attained the age of manhood; the eldest, however, called Apollocrates, accompanied his father in the expedition. And although Dionysius himself entreated them earnestly, as did also the Tarentines, to deliver the prisoners for whatever ransom they should name, they remained inexorable, and endured a siege and the wasting of their country, that they might vent their rage on his daughters. After having exposed them to the most shameful outrages, [Pg 390]
[CAS. 260]
they strangled them, burnt their bodies, pounded their bones, and cast them into the sea.2157 Ephorus in speaking of the written law of the Locri, which Zaleucus had most judiciously selected from the Cretan, Lacedæmonian, and Areopagite codes, says that Zaleucus was the first to establish this principle, that whereas formerly lawgivers had left it to the judges to award the punishments for the several offences, he established a certain penalty in his laws, thinking that the minds of the judges would not be led to attach the same penalties for the same transgressions, which course he considered expedient. He praises him also for having simplified the law of contracts. [He says also] that the Thurians, being desirous to improve [the code of Zaleucus] more than the Locri had done, became more celebrated, but were less judicious.2158 For that state is not regulated by the best government, where they guard against all manner of deceit by their laws, but that wherein they abide by laws simply framed. Plato also has observed that where there are many laws, there there will be law-suits and evil lives, in the same way as, where there are many physicians, there it is likely there is much sickness.

9. There is a certain singular circumstance, respecting grasshoppers, worthy of note. The river Alece2159 divides Rhegium from Locris, flowing through a deep ravine; those which are in the territory of the Locrians sing, but those on the other side are silent; and it is thought probable that this is caused by the region being woody, and their membranes being softened by dew do not produce sound; but those on the Locrian side being sunned, are dry and horny, so that the sound is easily produced by them. The statue of Eunomus the harper having a grasshopper seated on his harp is shown at Locri. Timæus says, that this Eunomus was once contending at the Pythian games and disputed with Aristo of Rhegium for the prize, and that Aristo declared that the people [Pg 391] of Delphi ought to take part with him, because his ancestors were consecrated to the god, and sent out to found the colony; but Eunomus said that they could have no claim to contend for melody with any one, because that among them even the grasshoppers, who are the most gifted of all creatures, were mute. Nevertheless Aristo was applauded, and had hopes of obtaining the victory, but Eunomus was declared victorious, and dedicated the said statue in his country, because that at the contest one of the chords of his harp having broken, a grasshopper taking his stand on it supplied the sound. Above these towns the Bruttii possess the interior, and there is the city Mamertium,2160 and the forest which they call Sila, which produces the best or Bruttian pitch.2161 It yields fine trees, and is well watered, extending over a length of 700 stadia.

10. After the Locri is the [river] Sagras,2162 in the feminine gender, on which is situated the altar of the Dioscuri, near which ten thousand Locrians, with a small body of Rhegians gained a victory over 130,000 Crotoniatæ, whence they say arose the proverb applied to incredulous people, “It is more true than the victory of the Sagras.” Some people add to the mysterious account, that it was announced the same day at the Olympic games to the people there assembled, and this speedy news was found perfectly correct. They say that this mischance was so unfortunate an event to the Crotoniatæ, that after it they did not long remain as a nation, on account [Pg 392]
[CAS. 261]
of the number of citizens who fell in the battle. After the Sagras is Caulonia, which was at first called Aulonia, from the αὐλὼν, or valley, in which it was situated; but it is deserted, for its former possessors were driven out by the barbarians,2163 and have taken refuge in Sicily, and there founded [another] Caulonia.2164 After this is Scylletium,2165 a colony of the Athenians, who set out under Menestheus;2166 it is now called Scylacium.2167 Dionysius [the elder] allotted a portion of it to the Locri, whilst it was in the possession of the Crotoniatæ.2168 The Scylleticus Sinus received its name from this city. It together with the Hipponiates Sinus forms the isthmus which we have mentioned above.2169 Dionysius2170 undertook to build a wall across the isthmus, at the time he was carrying on war against the Leucani, assigning as a pretext that it would afford security to the inhabitants of the peninsula from the inroads of the barbarians dwelling beyond it; but in truth his intention was to cut off the communication of the Greeks with each other, and to have the greater power over those who dwelt within the peninsula, but those who dwelt without2171 assembled and prevented the undertaking.

11. After Scylletium is the region of Crotona, and the [Pg 393] Iapygum tria Promontoria,2172 and after these the Lacinium,2173 sacred to Juno, formerly rich and filled with many offerings. But the distances have not been accurately stated. We can only say that in a general way Polybius reckons 23002174 stadia from the strait2175 to Lacinium,2176 and 700 stadia from Lacinium to the Iapygian promontory. They call this the entrance of the Gulf of Taranto. The extent of the gulf is considerable, being 240 miles along the shore. As the chorographer says ... of 380 ... to a light person, Artemidorus: wanting also by so many ... of the breadth of the mouth of the gulf.2177 Its aspect looks towards the rising of the sun in winter.2178 It commenced from Lacinium, for presently on doubling the cape you come to where the Greek cities formerly stood; now they no longer exist, with the exception of Tarentum. But on account of the estimation in which certain of them were held, it is worth while to speak of them somewhat in detail.

12. The first is Crotona, 150 stadia from Lacinium and the river Esaro;2179 there is also a haven2180 there, and another river [Pg 394]
[CAS. 262]
Nieto,2181 the name whereof is said to be derived from the following circumstance—they say that certain of the Greeks who had wandered from the fleet which had besieged Troy, having arrived in this place, disembarked to take a survey of the country, and that the Trojan women who accompanied them in the fleet, having observed the absence of the men, and being wearied with a toilsome voyage, set fire to the fleet, so that they were compelled to abide, when they saw, in addition [to the loss of their ships], that the soil was very fertile. Many others arriving soon after, and being desirous to live near their fellow-countrymen, founded several settlements. Most of them derived their names from the Trojans, and the river Nieto received its appellation from the destruction2182 [of the ships]. But Antiochus relates that an oracle having commanded the Greeks to found Crotona, Myscellus went forth to view the place, and having seen Sybaris already built on a neighbouring river of the same name, thought it better, and returned to the god to ask if he might be permitted to settle in that, instead of the other; but that the oracle answered, applying to him an epithet noticing his defective stature, (for Myscellus was somewhat crook-backed,)

“O short-backed Myscellus, whilst seeking somewhat else of thyself,
Thou pursuest only misfortune: it is right to accept that which is proffered to thee:”2183

and that he returned and built Crotona, wherein he was assisted by Archias,2184 the founder of Syracuse, who happened to touch at Crotona by chance, as he was proceeding to the colony of the Syracusans. The Iapyges possessed Crotona before this time,2185 as Ephorus relates. The city cultivated martial [Pg 395] discipline and athletic exercises to a great extent, and in one of the Olympic games all the seven wrestlers, who obtained the palm in the stadium, were Crotoniatæ; whence, it seems, the saying arose that the last wrestler of Crotona was the first of the other Greeks, and hence they say also is the origin of the expression, “more salubrious than Crotona,” as instancing a place which had something to show, in the number of wrestlers which it produced, as a proof of its salubrity and the robust frame of body which it was capable of rearing. Thus it had many victors in the Olympic games, although it cannot be reckoned to have been long inhabited on account of the vast destruction of its citizens, who fell at the battle of the Sagras. Its celebrity too was not a little spread by the number of Pythagoreans who resided there, and Milo,2186 who was the most renowned of wrestlers, and lived in terms of intimacy with Pythagoras, who abode long in this city. They relate that at a banquet of the philosophers, when one of the pillars in the hall gave way, Milo sustained the ceiling while they all escaped, and afterwards saved himself. It is likely that, trusting to the same strength, he met his fate as related by some, for whilst making his way through a thick wood, he strayed considerably out of the path, when finding a great log with wedges in it, he thrust both his hands and feet into the fissure, intending to split it completely, but was only able to force it enough to let the wedges fall out, when the gaping log presently closed on him, and he, being taken as in a snare, was devoured by wild beasts.

13. Beyond this, at the distance of 200 stadia, is situated Sybaris,2187 a colony settled by the Achæans, between the two [Pg 396]
[CAS. 263]
rivers Crati2188 and Sybaris.2189 Its founder was Is....2190 the Helicean.2191 So great was the prosperity enjoyed by this city anciently, that it held dominion over four neighbouring people and twenty-five towns; in the war with the Crotoniatæ it brought into the field 300,000 men, and occupied a circuit of 50 stadia on the Crati. But on account of the arrogance and turbulence of its citizens, it was deprived of all its prosperity by the Crotoniatæ in 702192 days, who took the city, and turning the waters of the river [Crati], overwhelmed it with an inundation.2193 Some time after, a few who had escaped came together and inhabited the site of their former city, but in time they were dispossessed by the Athenians2194 and other Greeks, who came and settled amongst them, but they despised and subjugated them, and removed the city to a neighbouring place, calling its name Thurii, from a fountain of that name. The water of the river Sybaris has the peculiar property of making the horses which drink it shy,2195 for which reason they keep their horses away from the river. The Crati turns the hair of those who bathe in it yellow, and sometimes white, but has [Pg 397] been found salutary for the cure of many disorders. Thurii, after having flourished for a long time, became a continual prey to the aggressions of the Leucani,2196 and afterwards the Tarentini troubling them, they appealed to the Romans for succour, who, in course of time, sent a colony2197 when it was nearly deserted, and changed the name of the city to Copiæ.2198

14. After Thurii is Lagaria,2199 a garrison fort; it was originally settled by Epeius2200 and the Phocenses; hence is derived the Lagaritan wine, sweet and delicate, and much recommended by the physicians, as is likewise the Thurian wine, which is reckoned among the best. Then comes the city of Heraclea,2201 a little way from the sea, and two navigable rivers, the Agri2202 and the Sinno,2203 on which was the city Siris, founded by a Trojan colony, but in course of time, when Heraclea was peopled with the citizens of Siris by the Tarentini, it became the harbour of Heraclea. Its distance from Heraclea was 24 stadia, and from Thurii about 330.2204 They point out the statue of the Trojan Minerva, which is erected there, as a proof of its colonization by the Trojans. They also relate as a miracle how the statue closed its eyes when the suppliants, who had fled for sanctuary to her shrine, were dragged away by the Ionians after they had taken the city;2205 they say that these Ionians came to settle here, when they fled from the yoke of the Lydians, and took the town of the Trojans2206 by force, calling its name Polieum. They show, too, at the present time [Pg 398]
[CAS. 264]
the statue that closes its eyes. It must, however, require a good courage, not to assert that it appeared to have closed its eyes, as that at Troy turned away its eyes from beholding the violence offered to Cassandra, but to show it in the act of winking:—but it is much more daring to make so many statues of the Minerva rescued from Ilium, as those who describe them affirm, for there is a Minerva said to be Trojan in the sense of having been rescued from that city, not only at Siris, but at Rome, at Lavinium, and at Luceria. The scene, too, of the daring of the Trojan female captives is assigned to many different places and appears incredible, although it is by no means impossible. There are some who say that Siris, and also that Sybaris on the Trionto,2207 were founded by the Rhodians. Antiochus says that the site of Siris having become the subject of a contention between the Tarentini and the Thurii, on that occasion commanded by Cleandridas the general who had been banished from Lacedæmon, the two people came to a composition, and agreed to inhabit it in common, but that the colony2208 should be considered as Tarentine; however, at a subsequent period both the name and the locality were changed, and it was called Heraclea.2209

15. Next in order is Metapontium,2210 at a distance of 140 stadia from the sea-port of Heraclea. It is said to be a settlement of the Pylians at the time of their return from Ilium under Nestor; their success in agriculture was so great, that it is said they offered at Delphi a golden harvest:2211 they adduce, as a proof of this foundation, the offerings of the dead sacrificed periodically to the Neleïdæ;2212 but it was destroyed by [Pg 399] the Samnites.2213 Antiochus says that certain Achæans, who had been sent for by the Achæans of Sybaris, settled in this place when it had been desolated; he adds that these were sent for on account of the hatred of the Achæans to the Tarentini, who had originally migrated from Laconia, in order to prevent their seizing upon the place which lay adjacent to them. Of the two cities, viz. Metapontium which was situated the nearer, [and Siris the further,2214] from Tarentum, the new comers preferred to occupy Metapontium. This choice was suggested by the Sybarites, because, if they should make good their settlement there, they would also possess Siris, but if they were to turn to Siris, Metapontium would be annexed to the territory of the Tarentines which was conterminous. But after being engaged in war with the Tarentini and the Œnotrians, who dwelt beyond them, they came to an agreement, securing to them a portion of land, which should constitute the boundary between Italy, as it then existed, and Iapygia. This, too, is the locality which tradition assigns to the adventures of Metapontus and the captive Melanippe, and her son Bœotus. But Antiochus is of opinion that the city Metapontium was originally called Metabum, and that its name was altered at a subsequent period; and that Melanippe was not entertained here but at Dius, and thinks that the heroum of Metabus as well as the testimony of the poet Asius, who says that

“The beautiful Melanippe, in the halls of Dius, bare Bœotus,”

afford sufficient proof that Melanippe was led to Dius and not to Metabum. Ephorus says that Daulius, the tyrant of Crissa2215 near Delphi, was the founder of Metapontium. There is, however, another tradition, that Leucippus was sent by the Achæans to help to found the colony, and having asked permission of the Tarentini to have the place for a day and a night, would not give it up, replying by day to those who [Pg 400]
[CAS. 265]
asked it of him, that he had asked and obtained it till the following night, and when asked by night, he said that he held it till the coming day.

Next adjoining is Tarentum and Iapygia, which we will describe when we shall have first gone through the islands which lie off Italy, according to our original purpose; for we have always given the adjacent islands with every nation we have hitherto described, and since we have gone through Œnotria, which only, the people of ancient times named Italy, we feel justified in keeping to the same arrangement, and shall pass on to Sicily and the surrounding islands.


1. Sicily is triangular in form, and on this account was at first called Trinacria, but afterwards the name was softened and it was changed into Thrinacia.2216 Three low headlands bound the figure: Pelorias is the name of that towards Cænys and the Columna Rheginorum which forms the strait; Pachynus2217 is that which stretches towards the east, and is washed by the Sea of Sicily, looking towards the Peloponnesus and in the direction of the passage to Crete; the third is Lilybæum,2218 and is next to Africa, looking towards that region and the setting of the sun in winter.2219 Of the sides which these three headlands bound, two are somewhat concave, while the third is slightly convex, it runs from Lilybæum to Pelorias, and is the longest, being, as Posidonius has said, 1700 stadia adding [Pg 401] further twenty. Of the others, that extending to Pachynus from Lilybæum is the longer, while the shortest faces the Strait and Italy, extending from Pelorias to Pachynus, being about 1120 or 1130 stadia. Posidonius shows that the circumference is 4400 stadia, but in the Chorography the distances are declared to exceed the above numbers, being severally reckoned in miles. Thus from Cape Pelorias to Mylæ,2220 25 miles; from Mylæ to Tyndaris,2221 25; thence to Agathyrnum,2222 30; from Agathyrnum to Alæsa,2223 30; from Alæsa to Cephalœdium,2224 30; these are but insignificant places; from Cephalœdium to the river Himera,2225 which runs through the midst of Sicily, 18; from thence to Panormus,2226 35; [thence] to the Emporium2227 of the Ægestani, 32; leaving to Lilybæum2228 a distance of 38; thence having doubled the Cape and coasting the adjacent side to Heracleum,2229 75; and to the Emporium2230 of the Agrigentini, 20; and to2231 [Pg 402]
[CAS. 266]
Camarina,2232 another 20; then to Pachynus, 50; thence again along the third side to Syracuse, 36;2233 from Syracuse to Catana, 60; then to Tauromenium,2234 33; thence to Messana, 30.2235 Thus on foot2236 from Pachynus to Pelorias we have 168 [miles], and from Messana2237 to [Cape] Lilybæum, on the Via Valeria,2238 we have 2352239 [miles]. Some have estimated the circuit in a more simple way, as Ephorus, who says that the compass of the island by sea takes five days and nights. Posidonius attempts to determine the situation of the island by climata,2240 and places Pelorias to the north, Lilybæum to the south, and Pachynus to the east. We however consider that of necessity all climata are set out in the manner of a parallelogram, but that districts portrayed as triangles, and especially such triangles as are scalene,2241 and whereof no one side lies parallel to a side of the parallelogram, cannot in any way be assimilated to climata on account of their obliquity. However, we must allow, that in treating of Sicily, Pelorias, which lies to the south of Italy, may well be called the most northern of the three angles, so that we say that the line which joins it2242 to Pachynus faces the east but looks towards the north.2243 Now this line [of coast] will make the side next the Strait [of Messina], and it must have a slight inclination towards the winter sunrise;2244 for thus the shore slightly changes its direction as you travel from Catana towards Syracuse and Pachynus. Now the transit from Pachynus to the mouth of the Alpheus2245 is 4000 stadia. But when Artemidorus says that from Pachynus [Pg 403] to Tænarum2246 it is 4600, and from the Alpheus to the Pamisus is 1130 stadia,2247 he appears to me to lie open to the objection of having given distances which do not accord with the 4000 stadia from Pachynus to the Alpheus. The line run from Pachynus to Lilybæum (which is much to the west of Pelorias) is considerably diverged from the south towards the west, having at the same time an aspect looking towards the east and towards the south.2248 On one side it is washed by the sea of Sicily, and on the other by the Libyan Sea, extending from Carthage to the Syrtes. The shortest run is 1500 stadia from Lilybæum to the coast of Africa about Carthage; and, according to report, a certain very sharp-sighted person,2249 placed on a watch-tower, announced to the Carthaginians besieged in Lilybæum the number of the ships which were leaving Carthage. And from Lilybæum to Pelorias the side must necessarily incline towards the east, and look in a direction towards the west and north, having Italy to the north, and the Tyrrhenian Sea with the islands of Æolus to the west.2250

2. The cities situated on the side which forms the Strait are, first Messana, then Tauromenium,2251 Catana, and Syracuse; between Catana and Syracuse were the ruined cities Naxos2252 and Megara,2253 situated where the rivers descending from Ætna fall into the sea, and afford good accommodation for shipping. Here is also the promontory of Xiphonia. They say that Ephorus founded these first cities of the Greeks in Sicily in [Pg 404]
[CAS. 267]
the tenth generation from the Trojan war. For those who preceded him were so terrified by the piratical customs of the Tyrrheni, and the ferocity of the savages of the neighbourhood, that they did not even venture to resort thither for the purposes of commerce. Theocles the Athenian, however, having been driven to Sicily by storms, observed both the weakness of the inhabitants and the excellence of the soil. On his return home, he was unable to persuade the Athenians to make any attempt, but he collected a numerous band of Chalcidians in Eubœa, with some Ionians and Dorians, whereof the most part were Megarenses, and sailed. The Chalcidians founded Naxos, and the Dorians Megara, which was at first called Hybla. These cities no longer exist, but the name of Hybla survives on account of the Hyblæan honey.

3. The first of the cities which at present remain on the aforesaid side is Messana, built at the head of the gulf of Pelorias, which is curved very considerably towards the east, and forms a bay. The passage across to Rhegium2254 is 60 stadia, but the distance to the Columna Rheginorum is much less. It was from a colony of the Messenians of the Peloponnesus that it was named Messana, having been originally called Zancle, on account of the great inequality of the coast (for anything irregular was termed ζάγκλιον).2255 It was originally founded by the people of Naxos near Catana. Afterwards the Mamertini, a tribe of Campanians, took possession of it.2256 The Romans, in the war in Sicily against the Carthaginians, used it as an arsenal.2257 Still more recently,2258 Sextus Pompeius assembled his fleet in it, to contend against Augustus Cæsar; and when he relinquished the island, he took ship from thence.2259 Charybdis2260 is pointed out at a short distance from the city in the Strait, an immense gulf, into which the back currents of the Strait frequently impel ships, carrying them down with a whirl and the violence of the eddy. When they are swallowed down and shattered, the wrecks are cast by the stream on the shore of Tauromenia,2261 which they call, on account of this kind of accumulation, the dunghill.2262 So greatly have the Mamertini prevailed over the Messenians, that they have by degrees wrested the [Pg 405] city from them. The inhabitants generally are rather called Mamertini than Messenians. The district abounds in wine, which we do not call Messenian, but Mamertinian: it vies with the best produced in Italy.2263 The city is well peopled, but Catana is more populous, which has been colonized by the Romans.2264 Tauromenium is less populous than either. Catana was founded by people from Naxos, and Tauromenium by the Zanclæans of Hybla,2265 but Catana was deprived of its original inhabitants when Hiero, the tyrant of Syracuse, introduced others, and called it by the name of Ætna instead of Catana. It is of this that Pindar says he was the founder, when he sings,

“Thou understandest what I say, O father, that bearest the same name with the splendid holy sacrifices, thou founder of Ætna.”2266

But on the death of Hiero,2267 the Catanæans returned and expelled the new inhabitants, and demolished the mausoleum of the tyrant. The Ætnæans, compelled to retire,2268 established themselves on a hilly district of Ætna, called Innesa,2269 and called the place Ætna. It is distant from Catana about 80 stadia. They still acknowledged Hiero as their founder.

Ætna lies the highest of any part of Catana, and participates the most in the inconveniences occasioned by the mouths of the volcano, for the streams of lava flowing down in Catanæa2270 pass through it first. It was here that Amphinomus [Pg 406]
[CAS. 269]
and Anapias set the example of filial piety so greatly celebrated, for they, seizing their parents, carried them on their shoulders2271 to a place of safety from the impending ruin; for whenever, as Posidonius relates, there is an eruption of the mountain the fields of the Catanæans are buried to a great depth. However, after the burning ashes have occasioned a temporary damage, they fertilize the country for future seasons, and render the soil good for the vine and very strong for other produce, the neighbouring districts not being equally adapted to the produce of wine. They say that the roots which the districts covered with these ashes produce, are so good for fattening sheep, that they are sometimes suffocated, wherefore they bleed them in the ear every four or five days,2272 in the same way as we have related a like practice at Erythia. When the stream of lava cools2273 it covers the surface of the earth with stone to a considerable depth, so that those who wish to uncover the original surface are obliged to hew away the stone as in a quarry. For the stone is liquefied in the craters and then thrown up. That which is cast forth from the top is like a black moist clay and flows down the hill-sides, then congealing it becomes mill-stone, preserving the same colour it had while fluid. The ashes of the stones which are burnt are like what would be produced by wood, and as rue thrives on wood ashes, so there is probably some quality in the ashes of Ætna which is appropriate to the vine.

4. Archias, sailing from Corinth, founded Syracuse about the same period2274 that Naxos and Megara were built. They say that Myscellus and Archias having repaired to Delphi at the same time to consult the oracle, the god demanded whether they would choose wealth or health, when Archias [Pg 407] preferred wealth and Myscellus health, upon which the oracle assigned Syracuse to the former to found, and Crotona to the latter. And certainly, in like manner as it fell out that the Crotoniatæ should inhabit a state so notable for salubrity as we have described,2275 so such great riches have accrued to the Syracusans that their name has been embodied in the proverb applied to those who have too great wealth, viz. that they have not yet attained to a tithe of the riches of the Syracusans. While Archias was on his voyage to Sicily, he left Chersicrates, a chief of the race of the Heracleidæ,2276 with a part of the expedition to settle the island now called Corcyra,2277 but anciently called Scheria, and he, having expelled the Liburni who possessed it, established his colony in the island. Archias, pursuing his route, met with certain Dorians at Zephyrium,2278 come from Sicily, and who had quitted the company of those who had founded Megara; these he took with him, and in conjunction with them founded Syracuse. The city flourished on account of the fertility2279 of the country and the convenience of the harbours, the citizens became great rulers; while under tyrants themselves, they domineered over the other states [of Sicily], and when freed from despotism, they set at liberty such as had been enslaved by the barbarians: of these barbarians some were the aboriginal inhabitants of the island, while others had come across from the continent. The Greeks suffered none of the barbarians to approach the shore, although they were not able to expel them entirely from the interior, for the Siculi, Sicani,2280 Morgetes, and some others,2281 still inhabit the island to the present day, amongst whom also were the Iberians, who, as Ephorus relates, were [Pg 408]
[CAS. 270]
the first of the barbarians that are considered to have been settlers in Sicily. It seems probable that Morgantium2282 was founded by the Morgetes. Formerly it was a city, but now it is not. When the Carthaginians2283 endeavoured to gain possession of the island they continually harassed both the Greeks and the barbarians, but the Syracusans withstood them; at a later period the Romans expelled the Carthaginians and took Syracuse after a long siege.2284 And [Sextus] Pompeius, having destroyed Syracuse in the same way as he had done by the other cities,2285 Augustus Cæsar in our own times sent thither a colony, and to a great extent restored it to its former importance, for anciently it consisted of five towns2286 enclosed by a wall of 1802287 stadia, but there being no great need that it should fill this extensive circle, he thought it expedient to fortify in a better way the thickly inhabited portion lying next the island of Ortygia, the circumference of which by itself equals that of an important city. Ortygia is connected to the mainland by a bridge, and [boasts of] the fountain Arethusa, which springs in such abundance as to form a river at once, and flows into the sea. They say that it is the river Alpheus2288 which rises in the Peloponnesus, and that it flows through the land beneath the sea2289 to the place [Pg 409] where the Arethusa rises and flows into the sea. Some such proofs as these are given in support of the fact. A certain chalice having fallen into the river at Olympia was cast up by the springs of Arethusa; the fountain too is troubled by the sacrifices of oxen at Olympia. And Pindar, following such reports, thus sings,

“Ortygia, revered place of reappearing2290 of the Alpheus,
The offset of renowned Syracuse.”2291

Timæus2292 the historian advances these accounts in like manner with Pindar. Undoubtedly if before reaching the sea the Alpheus were to fall into some chasm,2293 there would be a probability that it continued its course from thence to Sicily, preserving its potable water unmixed with the sea; but since the mouth of the river manifestly falls into the sea, and there does not appear any opening in the bed of the sea there, which would be capable of imbibing the waters of the river, (although even if there were they could not remain perfectly fresh, still it might be possible to retain much of the character of fresh water, if they were presently to be swallowed down into a passage running below the earth which forms the bed of the sea,) it is altogether impossible; and this the water of Arethusa clearly proves, being perfectly fit for beverage; but [Pg 410]
[CAS. 271]
that the flow of the river should remain compact through so long a course, not mixing with the sea until it should fall into the fancied channel, is entirely visionary; for we can scarcely credit it of the Rhone, the body of the waters of which remains compact during its passage through the lake, and preserves a visible course, but in that instance both the distance is short and the lake is not agitated by waves like the sea, but in this case of the Alpheus,2294 where there are great storms and the waters are tossed with violence, the supposition is by no means worthy of attention. The fable of the chalice being carried over is likewise a mere fabrication, for it is not calculated for transfer, nor is it by any means probable it should be washed away so far, nor yet by such difficult passages. Many rivers, however, and in many parts of the world, flow beneath the earth, but none for so great a distance.—Still, although there may be no impossibility in this circumstance, yet the above-mentioned accounts are altogether impossible, and almost as absurd as the fable related of the Inachus: this river, as Sophocles2295 feigns,

“Flowing from the heights of Pindus and Lacmus, passes from the country of the Perrhœbi2296 to that of the Amphilochi2297 and the Acarnanians, and mingles its waters with the Achelous:”2298

and further on [he says],

“Thence to Argos, cutting through the waves, it comes to the territory of Lyrceius.”

Those who would have the river Inopus to be a branch of the Nile flowing to Delos, exaggerate this kind of marvel to the utmost. Zoïlus the rhetorician, in his Eulogium of the people of Tenedos, says that the river Alpheus flows from Tenedos: yet this is the man who blames Homer for fabulous writing. Ibycus also says that the Asopus, a river of Sicyon,2299 flows from Phrygia. Hecatæus is more rational, who says that the Inachus of the Amphilochi, which flows from Mount Lacmus, from whence also the Æas2300 descends, was distinct from the river of like name in Argolis, and was so named after Amphilochus, from whom likewise the city of Argos was denominated [Pg 411] Amphilochian. He says further, that this river falls into the Achelous, and that the Æas flows to Apollonia2301 towards the west. On each side of the island there is an extensive harbour; the extent of the larger one is 802302 stadia. [Augustus] Cæsar has not only restored this city, but Catana, and likewise Centoripa,2303 which had contributed much towards the overthrow of [Sextus] Pompey. Centoripa is situated above Catana and confines with the mountains of Ætna and the river Giaretta,2304 which flows into Catanæa.

5. One of the remaining sides, that stretching from Pachynus to Lilybæum, is entirely deserted; still it preserves a few traces of the ancient inhabitants, one of whose cities was Camarina.2305 Acragas,2306 which was a colony of the Geloi,2307 together with its port and Lilybæum,2308 still exist. In fact, these regions, lying opposite to Carthage, have been wasted by the great and protracted wars which have been waged. The remaining and greatest side, although it is by no means densely peopled, is well occupied, for Alæsa,2309 Tyndaris,2310 the emporium2311 of the Ægestani and Cephalœdium,2312 are respectable towns. Panormus has received a Roman colony: they say that Ægesta2313 was founded by the Greeks who passed over, as we have related when speaking of Italy, with Philoctetes to the Crotoniatis, and were by him sent to Sicily with Ægestus2314 the Trojan.

6. In the interior of the island a few inhabitants possess Enna,2315 in which there is a temple of Ceres;2316 it is situated on [Pg 412]
[CAS. 272]
a hill, and surrounded by spacious tablelands well adapted for tillage. The fugitive slaves, who placed themselves under the leading of Eunus,2317 and sustained in this city a long siege, scarcely being reduced by the Romans, occasioned much damage to the city. The Catanæi, Tauromenitæ, and many others, suffered, much in like manner. †Eryx,2318 a very lofty mountain, is also inhabited. It possesses a temple of Venus, which is very much esteemed; in former times it was well filled with women sacred to the goddess, whom the inhabitants of Sicily, and also many others, offered in accomplishment of their vows; but now, both is the neighbourhood much thinner of inhabitants, and the temple not near so well supplied with priestesses and female attendants.2319 There is also an establishment of this goddess at Rome called the temple of Venus Erycina, just before the Colline Gate; in addition to the temple it has a portico well worthy of notice.† The other settlement and most of the interior have been left to the shepherds for pasturage; for we do not know that Himera is yet inhabited,2320 or Gela,2321 or Callipolis, or Selinus, or Eubœa, or many other places; of these the Zanclæi of Mylæ2322 founded Himera,2323 the people of Naxos, Callipolis,2324 the Megaræans of Sicily,2325 Selinus,2326 and the Leontini2327 Eubœa.2328 Many too of the cities [Pg 413] of the aboriginal inhabitants2329 have been destroyed, as Camici, the kingdom of Cocalus, at whose house Minos is reported to have been treacherously cut off. The Romans therefore, considering the deserted condition of the country, and having got possession both of the hills and the most part of the plains, have given them over to horse-breeders, herdsmen, and shepherds, by whom the island has frequently been brought into great perils. First of all the shepherds, taking to pillage here and there in different places, and afterwards assembling in numbers and forcibly taking settlements; for instance, as those under the command of Eunus2330 seized upon Enna.2331 And quite recently, during the time that we were at Rome, a certain Selurus, called the son of Ætna, was sent up to that city. He had been the captain of a band of robbers, and had for a long time infested the country round Ætna, committing frequent depredations. We saw him torn to pieces by wild beasts in the forum after a contest of gladiators: he had been set upon a platform fashioned to represent Mount Ætna, which being suddenly unfastened and falling, he was precipitated amongst certain cages of wild beasts, which had also been slightly constructed under the platform for the occasion.

7. The fertility of the country is so generally extolled by every one, as nothing inferior to Italy, that there is a question as to what we should say of it. Indeed, for wheat, honey, saffron, and some other commodities, it even surpasses that country. In addition to this, its proximity renders the island like a part of Italy itself, so that it supplies the Roman market with produce both commodiously and without trouble. Indeed they call it the granary of Rome, for all the produce of the island is carried thither, except a few things required for home consumption. It consists not only of the fruits of the earth, but of cattle, skins, wool, and the like. Posidonius says that Syracuse and Eryx are situated on the sea like two citadels, and that Enna in the midst, between Syracuse and Eryx, commands the surrounding plains. †The2332 whole territory [Pg 414]
[CAS. 273]
of the Leontini, which was possessed by the people of Naxos settled in Sicily, suffered much, for they always shared in the misfortunes of Syracuse, but not always in its prosperity.†

8. Near to Centoripa is the town we have a little before mentioned, Ætna, which serves as a place for travellers about to ascend Mount Ætna, to halt and refresh themselves for the expedition. For here commences the region in which is situated the summit of the mountain. The districts above are barren and covered with ashes, which are surmounted by the snows in winter: all below it however is filled with woods and plantations of all kinds. It seems that the summits of the mountain take many changes by the ravages of the fire, which sometimes is brought together into one crater, and at another is divided; at one time again it heaves forth streams of lava, and at another flames and thick smoke: at other times again ejecting red-hot masses of fire-stone. In such violent commotions as these the subterraneous passages must necessarily undergo a corresponding change, and at times the orifices on the surface around be considerably increased. Some who have very recently ascended the mountain, reported2333 to us, that they found at the top an even plain of about 20 stadia in circumference, enclosed by an overhanging ridge of ashes about the height of a wall, so that those who are desirous of proceeding further are obliged to leap down into the plain. They noticed in the midst of it a mound; it was ash-coloured, as was likewise the plain in appearance. Above the mound a column of cloud reared itself in a perpendicular line to the height of 200 stadia, and remained motionless (there being no air stirring at the time); it resembled smoke. Two of the party resolutely attempted to proceed further across this plain, but, finding the sand very hot and sinking very deep in it, they turned back, without however being able to make any more particular observations, as to what we have described, than those who beheld from a greater distance. They were, however, of opinion, from the observations they were able to make, that much exaggeration pervades the accounts we have of the volcano, and especially the tale about Empedocles, that he leaped into the [Pg 415] crater, and left as a vestige of his folly one of the brazen sandals which he wore, it being found outside at a short distance from the lip of the crater, with the appearance of having been cast up by the violence of the flame; for neither is the place approachable nor even visible, nor yet was it likely that any thing could be cast in thither, on account of the contrary current of the vapours and other matters cast up from the lower parts of the mountain, and also on account of the overpowering excess of heat, which would most likely meet any one long before approaching the mouth of the crater; and if eventually any thing should be cast down, it would be totally decomposed before it were cast up again, what manner of form soever it might have had at first. And again, although it is not unreasonable to suppose that the force of the vapour and fire is occasionally slackened for want of a continual supply of fuel, still we are not to conclude that it is ever possible for a man to approach it in the presence of so great an opposing power. Ætna more especially commands the shore along the Strait and Catana, but it also overlooks the sea that washes Tyrrhenia and the Lipari Islands. By night a glowing light appears on its summit, but in the day-time it is enveloped with smoke and thick darkness.

9. The Nebrodes mountains2334 take their rise opposite2335 to Ætna; they are not so lofty as Ætna, but extend over a much greater surface. The whole island is hollow under ground, and full of rivers and fire like the bed of the Tyrrhenian Sea,2336 as far as Cumæa, as we before described.2337 For there are hot springs in many places in the island, some of which are saline, as those named Selinuntia2338 and the springs at Himera, while those at Ægesta2339 are fresh. Near to Acragas2340 there are certain lakes,2341 the waters of which taste like the sea, but their [Pg 416]
[CAS. 274]
properties are very different, for if those who do not know how to swim plunge into them, they are not covered over by them, but float on the surface like pieces of wood.

The Palici2342 possess craters which cast up water in a jet, having the appearance of a dome, and then receive it back again into the same place it rose from. The cavern near Mataurum2343 has within it a considerable channel, with a river flowing through it under ground for a long distance, and afterwards emerging to the surface as does the El-Asi2344 in Syria, which, after descending into the chasm between Apameia and Antioch, which they call Charybdis, rises again to the surface at the distance of about 40 stadia. Much the same circumstances are remarked of the Tigris2345 in Mesopotamia, and the Nile in Africa,2346 a little before2347 its most notorious springs. The water in the neighbourhood of the city of Stymphalus, having passed under ground about 200 stadia, gives rise to the river Erasinus2348 in Argia;2349 and again, the waters which are ingulfed with a low roaring sound near Asea2350 in Arcadia, after a long course, spring forth with such [Pg 417] copiousness as to form the Eurotas and the Alpheus,2351 whence has arisen a fable extensively credited, that if a certain charm is uttered over each of two crowns on their being cast into the stream where the two rivers flow in a common channel, each crown will make its appearance in its respective river according to the charm. As for what we might add with reference to the Timao,2352 it has already been particularized.

10. Phænomena, similar to these, and such as take place throughout Sicily,2353 are witnessed in the Lipari Islands, and especially in Lipari itself.—These islands are seven in number, the chief of which is Lipari, a colony of the Cnidians.2354 It is nearest to Sicily after Thermessa.2355 It was originally named Meligunis. It was possessed of a fleet, and for a considerable time repelled the incursions of the Tyrrheni.2356 The islands now called Liparæan were subject to it, some call them the islands of Æolus. The citizens were so successful as to make frequent offerings of the spoils taken in war to the temple of Apollo at Delphi.2357 It possesses a fertile soil,2358 [Pg 418]
[CAS. 275]
and mines2359 of alum easy to be wrought, hot springs,2360 and craters. [Thermessa] is, as it were, situated between this and Sicily; it is now designated as Hiera, or sacred to Vulcan; it is entirely rocky, and desert, and volcanic. In it are three craters, and the flames which issue from the largest are accompanied with burning masses of lava, which have already obstructed a considerable portion of the strait [between Thermessa and the island Lipari]; repeated observations have led to the belief that the flames of the volcanos, both in this island and at Mount Ætna, are stimulated by the winds2361 as they rise; and when the winds are lulled, the flames also subside; nor is this without reason, for if the winds are both originally produced and kept up by the vapours arising from the sea, those who witness these phenomena will not be surprised, if the fire should be excited in some such way, by the like aliment and circumstances. Polybius tells us that one of the three craters of the island has partly fallen down, while the larger of the two that remain has a lip, the circumference of which is five stadia, and the diameter nearly 50 feet,2362 and its elevation about a stadium from the level of the sea, which may be seen at the base in calm weather; but if we are to credit this, we may as well attend to what has been reported concerning Empedocles. [Polybius] also says, that “when the south wind is to blow, a thick cloud lies stretched round the island, so that one cannot see even as far as Sicily in the distance; but when there is to be a north wind, the clear flames ascend to a great height above the said crater, and great rumblings are heard; while for the west wind effects are produced about half way between these two. The other craters are similarly affected, but their exhalations are not so violent. Indeed, it is possible to foretell what wind will blow three days beforehand, from the degree of intensity of the rumbling, and also from the part whence the exhalations, flames, and smoky blazes issue. It is said indeed that some of the inhabitants of the Lipari Islands, at times when there has been so great a calm that no ship could sail out of port, have predicted [Pg 419] what wind would blow, and have not been mistaken.” From hence indeed that which seems to be the most fabulous invention of the poet, appears not to have been written without some foundation, and he appears to have merely used an allegorical style, while guided by the truth, when he says that Æolus is the steward of the winds;2363 however, we have formerly said enough as to this.2364 We will now return to the point whence we digressed.

11. We have noticed the islands of Lipari and Thermessa. As for Strongyle,2365 it takes its name from its form.2366 Like the other two, it is subigneous, but is deficient in the force of the flames which are emitted, while their brightness is greater. It is here they say that Æolus resided.2367 The fourth is Didyma; this island also is named from its form.2368 Of the others, [the fifth and sixth] are [Pg 420]
[CAS. 276]
Ericussa2369 and Phœnicussa;2370 they are called from the plants which they produce, and are given up to pasture. The seventh [island] is called Euonymus;2371 it is the farthest in the sea and barren. It is called Euonymus because it lies the most to the left when you sail from the island of Lipari to Sicily,2372 and many times flames of fire have been seen to rise to the surface, and play upon the sea round the islands: these flames rush with violence from the cavities at the bottom of the sea,2373 and force for themselves a passage to the open air. Posidonius says, that at a time so recent as to be almost within his recollection, about the summer solstice and at break of day, between Hiera and Euonymus, the sea was observed to be suddenly raised aloft, and to abide some time raised in a compact mass and then to subside. Some ventured to approach that part in their ships; they observed the fish dead and driven by the current, but being distressed by the heat and foul smell, were compelled to turn back. One of the boats which had approached nearest lost some of her crew, and was scarcely able to reach Lipari with the rest, and they had fits like an epileptic person, at one time fainting and giddy, and at another returning to their senses; and many days afterwards a mud or clay was observed rising in the sea, and in many parts the flames [Pg 421] issued, and smoke and smoky blazes; afterwards it congealed and became a rock like mill-stones. Titus Flaminius,2374 who then commanded in Sicily, despatched to the senate [of Rome] a full account of the phenomenon; the senate sent and offered sacrifices to the infernal and marine divinities both in the little island [which had thus been formed] and the Lipari Islands. Now the chorographer reckons that from Ericodes to Phœnicodes are 10 miles, from thence to Didyma 30, from thence to the northernmost point2375 of Lipari 29, and from thence to Sicily 19, while from Strongyle are 16.2376 Melita2377 lies before2378 Pachynus; from thence come the little dogs called Maltese;2379 so does also Gaudus,2380 both of them are situated about 88 miles distant from that promontory. Cossura2381 is situated before Cape Lilybæum, and opposite the Carthaginian city Aspis, which they call [in Latin] Clypea, it is situated in the midst of the space which lies between those [Pg 422]
[CAS. 277]
two places, and is distant from each the number of miles last given.2382 Ægimurus also and other little islands lie off Sicily and Africa. So much for the islands.


1. Having previously passed over the regions of ancient Italy as far as Metapontium, we must now proceed to describe the rest. After it Iapygia2383 comes next in order; the Greeks call it Messapia, but the inhabitants, dividing it into cantons, call one the Salentini,2384 that in the neighbourhood of the Cape2385 Iapygia, and another the Calabri;2386 above these towards the north lie the Peucetii,2387 and those who are called Daunii2388 in the Greek language, but the inhabitants call [Pg 423] the whole region beyond the Calabri, Apulia. Some of these people are called Pœdicli,2389 especially the Peucetii. Messapia forms a peninsula; the isthmus extending from Brentesium2390 to Tarentum, which bounds it, being 310 stadia, and the circumnavigation round the Iapygian promontory2391 about [one thousand]2392 four hundred. [Tarentum2393] is distant from Metapontium2394 about two hundred and [twenty2393] stadia. The course to it by sea runs in an easterly direction. The Gulf of Tarentum is for the most part destitute of a port, but here there is a spacious and commodious [harbour2395], closed in by a great bridge. It is 100 stadia2396 in circuit. This port, at the head of its basin which recedes most inland, forms, with the exterior sea, an isthmus which connects the peninsula with the land. The city is situated upon this peninsula. The neck of land is so low that ships are easily hauled over it from either side. The site of the city likewise is extremely low; the ground, however, rises slightly towards the citadel. The old wall of the city has an immense circuit, but now the portion towards the isthmus is deserted, but that standing near the mouth of the harbour, where the citadel is situated, still subsists, and contains a considerable city. It possesses a noble gymnasium and a spacious forum, in which there is set up a brazen colossus of Jupiter, the largest that ever was, with the exception of that of Rhodes. The citadel is situated between the forum and the entrance of the harbour, it still preserves some slight relics of its ancient magnificence [Pg 424]
[CAS. 278]
and gifts, but the chief of them were destroyed either by the Carthaginians2397 when they took the city, or by the Romans2398 when they took it by force and sacked it. Amongst other booty taken on this occasion2399 was the brazen colossus of Hercules, the work of Lysippus, now in the Capitol, which was dedicated as an offering by Fabius Maximus, who took the city.

2. Antiochus, speaking of the foundation of this city, says that after the Messenian war2400 such of the Lacedæmonians as did not join the army were sentenced to be slaves, and denominated Helots; and that such as were born during the period of the war they termed Partheniæ, and decreed to be base: but these not bearing the reproach, (for they were many,) conspired against the free citizens,2401 but the chief magistrates, becoming acquainted with the existence of the plot, employed certain persons, who, by feigning friendship to the cause, should be able to give some intelligence of the nature of it. Of this number was Phalanthus, who was apparently the chief leader of them, but who was not quite pleased with those who had been named to conduct their deliberations.2402 It was agreed that at the Hyacinthine games, celebrated in the temple of Amyclæ, just at the conclusion of the contest, and when Phalanthus should put on his helmet,2403 they should make a simultaneous attack. The free citizens2401 were distinguishable from others by their hair. They, having been secretly warned as to the arrangements made for the signal of Phalanthus, just as the chief contest came off, a herald came forward and proclaimed, “Let not Phalanthus put on his helmet.” The conspirators perceiving that the plot was disclosed, some fled, and others supplicated mercy. When the chief magistrates had bid them not to fear, they [Pg 425] committed them to prison, but sent Phalanthus to inquire after a new settlement. He received from the oracle the following response,

“To thee Satyrium2404 I have given, and the rich country of Tarentum to inhabit, and thou shalt become a scourge to the Iapygians.”

The Partheniæ accordingly accompanied Phalanthus to their destination, and the barbarians and Cretans,2405 who already possessed the country, received them kindly. They say that these Cretans were the party who sailed with Minos to Sicily, and that after his death, which took place at Camici,2406 in the palace of Cocalus, they took ship and set sail from Sicily, but in their voyage they were cast by tempest on this coast, some of whom, afterwards coasting the Adriatic on foot, reached Macedonia, and were called Bottiæi.2407 They further add, that all the people who reach as far as Daunia were called Iapygians, from Iapyx, who was born to Dædalus by a Cretan woman, and became a chief leader of the Cretans. The city Tarentum was named from a certain hero.2408

3. Ephorus gives the following account of the foundation. The Lacedæmonians waged war against the Messenians, who had murdered their king, Teleclus,2409 when he visited Messene to offer sacrifice. They took an oath that they would not return home before they had destroyed Messene, or should be [Pg 426]
[CAS. 279]
all slain. They left only the youngest and oldest of the citizens to keep their own country. After this, in the tenth [year] of the war, the Lacedæmonian matrons assembled and deputed certain women to remonstrate with the citizens, and show them that they were carrying on the war with the Messenians on very disadvantageous terms, for they, abiding in their own country, procreated children, while the Lacedæmonians, leaving their wives in a state like widowhood, remained away in the war; and to expose the great peril there was of the depopulation of their country. The Lacedæmonians, being both desirous of observing their oath, and taking into consideration the representations of their wives, sent a deputation of the most vigorous, and, at the same time, most juvenile of the army, whom they considered, in a manner, not to have participated in the oath, because they had been but children when they accompanied their elders to the war, and charged them all to company with all the maidens, reckoning that by that means they would bear the more children; which having been accordingly obeyed, the children who were born were denominated Partheniæ. Messene was taken after a war of nineteen years, as Tyrtæus says,

“The fathers of our fathers, armed for war,
Possessing ever patient courage, fought at Messene
For nineteen years with unremitting toil.
Till on the twentieth, leaving their rich soil,
The enemy forsook the towering heights of Ithome.”2410

Thus then did they destroy Messenia, but returning home, they neglected to honour the Partheniæ like other youths, and treated them as though they had been born out of wedlock. The Partheniæ, leaguing with the Helots, conspired against the Lacedæmonians, and agreed to raise a Laconic felt hat2411 in the market-place as a signal for the commencement of hostilities. Some of the Helots betrayed the plot, but the government found it difficult to resist them by force, for they were many, and all unanimous, and looked upon each other as brothers; those in authority therefore commanded such as were appointed to raise the signal, to depart out of the market-place; when they therefore perceived that their plot [Pg 427] was disclosed they desisted, and the Lacedæmonians persuaded them, through the instrumentality of their fathers, to leave the country and colonize: and advised them, if they should get possession of a convenient place, to abide in it, but if not, they promised that a fifth part of Messenia should be divided amongst them on their return. So they departed and found the Greeks carrying on hostilities against the barbarians, and taking part in the perils of the war, they obtained possession of Tarentum, which they colonized.

4. At one time, when the government of the Tarentines had assumed a democratic form, they rose to great importance; for they possessed the greatest fleet of any state in those parts, and could bring into the field an army of 30,000 foot and 3000 horse, exclusive of a select body of 1000 cavalry called Hipparchi.2412 They likewise encouraged the Pythagorean philosophy, and Archytas, who for a long time presided over the government of their state, gave it his special support.2413 But at a later period their luxury, which was produced by their prosperity, increased to that degree that their general holidays or festivals exceeded in number the days of the year; and hence arose an inefficient government, and as one proof of their unstatesmanlike acts we may adduce their employment of foreign generals; for they sent for Alexander,2414 king of the Molossi, to come and assist them against the Messapii and Leucani. They had before that employed Archidamus, the son of Agesilaus;2415 afterwards they called in Cleonymus2416 and Agathocles,2417 and later, when they rose against the Romans, Pyrrhus.2418 They were not able even to retain the respect of those whom they had invited, but rather merited their disgust. Alexander [of Epirus] was so displeased with them that he endeavoured to remove the seat of the general council of the Greek states in Italy, which was accustomed to assemble at Heraclea, a city of the Tarentines, to a city of the Thurii; and he commanded that some place on the river Acalandrus,2419 [Pg 428]
[CAS. 281]
commodious for their meetings, should be properly fortified for their reception.—And indeed they say that the misfortune2420 of that prince was chiefly due to a want of good feeling on their part. They were deprived of their liberty during the wars2421 of Hannibal, but have since received a Roman colony,2422 and now live in peace and are in a more prosperous state than ever. They also engaged in war with the Messapii concerning Heraclea, when they counted the kings of the Daunii and of the Peucetii as allies.2423

5. The remainder of the country of the Iapygii is very fair, notwithstanding unfavourable appearances; for although, for the most part, it appears rugged, yet when it is broken up the soil is found to be deep; and although it lacks water, yet it appears well-suited for pasture, and is furnished with trees. At one time it was thickly inhabited throughout its whole extent, and possessed thirteen cities, but now it is so depopulated that, with the exception of Tarentum and Brentesium,2424 they only deserve the name of hamlets. They say that the Salentini are a colony of Cretans. Here is the temple of Minerva,2425 which formerly was rich, and the rock called Acra Iapygia,2426 which juts out far into the sea towards the rising of the sun in winter,2427 and turning, as it were, towards [Pg 429] Cape Lacinium, which lies opposite to it on the west, it closes the entrance of the Gulf of Tarentum, as on the other side, the Ceraunian Mountains, together with the said Cape, close the entrance of the Ionian Gulf, the run across is about 700 stadia from that,2428 both to the Ceraunian Mountains and to Cape Lacinium.2429 In coasting along the shore from Tarentum to Brentesium there are 600 stadia as far as the little city of Baris, which is at the present time called Veretum,2430 and is situated on the extremities of the Salentine territory; the approach to it from Tarentum is much easier on foot2431 than by sea. Thence to Leuca are 80 stadia; this too is but a small village, in which there is shown a well of fetid water, and the legend runs, that when Hercules drove out the last of the giants from Phlegra in Campania, who were called Leuternians, some fled and were buried here, and that from their blood a spring issues to supply the well; on this account likewise the coast is called the Leuternian coast.2432 From Leuca to Hydrus,2433 a small town, 150 stadia. From thence to Brentesium 400, and the like distance also [from Hydrus] to the island Saso,2434 which is situated almost in the midst of the course from Epirus to Brentesium; and therefore when vessels are unable to obtain a direct passage they run to the left from Saso to Hydrus, and thence watching for a favourable wind they steer towards the haven of Brentesium, or the passengers disembarking proceed on foot by a shorter way through Rudiæ, a Grecian city, where the poet Ennius was born.2435 The district which we have followed by sea from [Pg 430]
[CAS. 282]
Tarentum to Brentesium is like a peninsula. The road by land from Brentesium to Tarentum is but a day’s journey for a light person on foot, it constitutes the isthmus of the said peninsula, which people in general call Messapia, Iapygia, Calabria, or Salentinum, without being at all particular; but some, as we have said before, do make a distinction. Thus have we described the towns on the sea-coast.

6. In the inland are Rudiæ and Lupiæ, and at a short distance from the sea Aletia;2436 about the middle of the isthmus is Uria,2437 in which is still shown the palace of a certain famous nobleman.2438 As Hyria2439 is described by Herodotus as situated in Iapygia, and as founded by the Cretans who strayed from the fleet of Minos while sailing to Sicily;2440 we must suppose that he meant either this place [Uria] or Veretum. It is said that a colony of Cretans settled in Brentesium,2441 but the tradition varies; some say they were those who came with Theseus from Cnossus;2442 others, that they were some out of Sicily who had come with Iapyx; they agree however in saying that they did not abide there, but went thence to Bottiæa. At a later period, when the state was under the government of a monarch, it lost a large portion of its territories, which was taken by the Lacedæmonians who came over under Phalanthus; notwithstanding this the Brundusians received him when he was expelled from Tarentum, and honoured him with a splendid tomb at his death. They possess a district of superior fertility to that of the Tarentines; for its soil is light, still it is fruitful, and its honey and wools are amongst the most esteemed; further, the harbour of Brentesium is superior to that of Tarentum, for many havens are protected by the single entrance,2443 and rendered perfectly smooth, many [Pg 431] bays [or reaches] being formed within it, so that it resembles in fashion the antlers of a stag, whence its name, for the place, together with the city, is exceedingly like the head of a stag, and in the Messapian language the stag’s head is called Brentesium; while the port of Tarentum is not entirely safe, both on account of its lying very open, and of certain shallows near its head.

7. Further, the course for passengers from Greece and Asia is most direct to Brentesium, and in fact all who are journeying to Rome disembark here. Hence there are two ways to Rome; one, which is only walked by mules, through the Peucetii, who are called Pœdicli, the Daunii, and the Samnites, as far as Beneventum, on which road is the city Egnatia,<