The Ancient Library

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On this page: Geomori – Geoponici – Gerusia



He measured and indicated on a map the distance between the stations on the great military roads and along the coasts of the Roman empire, thus contributing enor­mously to our knowledge of ancient to­pography, and laying a foundation for our maps. These data formed the basis of a new map of the world, which was first set up in Borne. Numerous copies were prob­ably taken for the larger cities of the empire, and smaller portable ones dis­tributed among the military and the ad­ministrating officials. It is probably upon copies of this kind that the Tabula Peutin-gerlana and the Itinlrarla are based. (See peutinger ; itineraria.)

In the 1st century a.d. much was added to geographical knowledge by the expedi­tions of the Romans into the interior of North Africa and the North of Europe. The most important literary works of the Romans on geography belong to this period. These are (1) the compendium of Pomponlus Mela; (2) the geographical books of Pliny the Elder's great encyclopaedia, a dreary uncritical compilation, but the only represen­tative we have of a number of lost works; (3) the Germania of Tacitus, an essay mainly of an ethnographical character. The last great contribution made to geographical science in antiquity is the work of the Alex­andrian astronomer Ptolemy (about 140 a.d.). This consists mainly of lists of the places marked in the current maps which he makes his authorities, with their latitude and longitude. After Ptolemy, the geo­graphical literature of the Greeks and Romans alike has nothing to show but compilations and extracts. Towards the end of the 6th century, Stephanus of Byzantium compiled a dictionary of geo­graphy, which is valuable for the quantity of information taken from the older and lost writings which it embodies. The book of Pausanlas (about 175 a.d.) is valuable as bearing on the special topography of Greece.

Gfiomorl. In many Doric states, particu­larly in Syracuse, this term denoted the territorial aristocracy. But in Athens it was applied to the landed commonalty, dis­tinguished from the E^yatndce, or nobles, on the one side, and the Demiurgl, or mechanics, on the other.

Geop&nlci. The ancient writers on agri­culture : for instance (among the Greeks), the philosopher Democritus, and in later times, Xenophon, in his (Economicus. No other Greek works of the kind have come

down to us, except the collection called Geoponica. This consists of twenty books, and contains extracts from writers of the most widely distant periods. The compiler was a Bi thynian, Cassianus Bassus, who lived about the middle of the 10th century a.d., and undertook the work at the suggestion of the Emperor Constantine VII. He based it upon a collection of extracts made by a cer­tain VindaniSs Anat5U6s. Agriculture was held in high esteem by the Romans, and the subject was in consequence a favourite one with their men of letters. A number of their works on it have come down to us : the Res Rusiica of the elder Cato, a similar work by the encyclopaedic scholar, Marcus TSrentlus Varro, the Georgics of Vergil, and after Christ the writings of Columella, Gargilius Martialls, and Palladlus. The Georgics of Vergil are a poem: and one book of Columella is in verse.

Germanlcus Caesar. The son of Nero Claudius Drusus, adopted son of his uncle Tiberius, and grandson of Livia, the wife of Augustus. He was celebrated for his cam­paigns against the Germans. He was born 15 b.c., and died 19 a.d. Distinguished as much for culture as for military accomplish­ments, he was an orator and author as wel! as a general. Ovid, who dedicated to him the 2nd edition of his Fasti, praises his poetry. His paraphrase of the PhmnomSna of Aratus in 725 lines, and three fragments (246 lines) of a paraphrase of the same writer's PrdgnOstica, still survive. They are remarkable for knowledge, command of metre, and a pleasant style. The Pheno­mena are dedicated to Tiberius, and de­scribed by the author himself as the work of a beginner. These poems used erro­neously to be attributed to Domitian, who did not take the title of Germanicus until he was emperor. Three collections of scholia upon them, by no means without value, have also survived.

GSrusIa (council of old men, GSrontSs). The supreme deliberative authority among the Spartans, according to the constitution of Lycurgus. It consisted of twenty-eight men of at least sixty years of age, called Gerontes, elected by the public assembly for life. The meetings of the Gerusia were presided over by the two kings, who had the right of voting. The number of the council therefore amounted to thirty. It was their duty to deliberate beforehand on all important affairs of state, and prepare pre­liminary resolutions upon them, to be voted upon by the public assembly. They had

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