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Strabo was a great traveller, and much of his geographical information is the result of his own observation. In a passage in the second book of his Geography (p. 117) he says, " I shall accordingly describe partly the lands and seas which I have travelled through myself, partly what I have found credible in those who have given me information orally or by writing. Westwards I have travelled from Armenia to the parts of Tyr-rhenia adjacent to Sardinia ; towards the south from the Euxine to the borders of Ethiopia. And perhaps there is not one among those who have written geographies who has visited more places than I have between these limits; for those who have gone further to the west have not gone so far to the east; and others who have gone further towards the east, have not advanced so far to the west: and the case is the same with the regions between the northern and the southern limits." He expressly mentions in his work having seen the following countries and places: Egypt, Corinth, the island Gyarus ; Populonium, near Elba; Comana in Cappadocia; Ephesus ; Mylasa, Arnasia, Nysa, and Hierapolis in Phrygia. It follows, from this enumeration, that he must have seen a great number of other places. The meagre and incorrect description which he gives of many districts and towns may perhaps be taken as evidence that he derived his knowledge of them only from books ; whereas on the contrary, the fulness and accuracy of his description, in other cases, may be good evidence that he had visited them.
It is certain that he saw very little of Greece: he visited Corinth, Argos, Athens, Megara, and the neighbourhood of those places, but this was all. He saw no more of the Peloponnesus than he would see in going to Argos, and he did not know that the remains of Mycenae still existed (p. 372). It seems probable that he merely passed through Greece on his way to Brundusium, by which route he probably reached Rome. Populonium and Luna were the limit of his travels to the north in Italy. It was probably in Rome that he obtained his information about the countries which lie north of the Alps, Gallia, Germany, and also Britain, and Spain. During his visit to Egypt he staid some time in Alexandria, and he went up the river to Syene and Philae, the southern limits of Egypt. That he did not remain in Egypt, we may safely assume; but it is not clear by what route he left it, and the conjectures upon this matter are merely guesses.
The oldest writings of the Greeks, the Homeric poems, contain geographical description blended with history and fable. In the early period of Greek literature, geography was nothing more than local description, and the description was made for other purposes than geography: it was subservient to poetry. The Ionian school may be considered as having made a step towards geographical science by the attention which they paid to celestial phaenomena, but they did nothing directly for geography. The history of Herodotus is the earliest extant work in which geographical description is blended with an historical subject. But Herodotus still retains marks of the characteristic early literature of Greece: his history is an epic poem; his general geography still bears
the mythical stamp. That which gives so much real value to his work is his own personal observation, and the truthfulness of his description. He is the first.extant writer who has treated on physical geography, and on the causes now in operation by which the earth's surface is continually undergoing change. The connection of geo -graphy and history henceforth subsisted, as we see in the extant Greek and Roman historians, and in the Anabasis of Arrian, which is founded on works that are now lost. The first systematic writer on geography was Eratosthenes, who preceded Strabo by about three centuries. The work of Eratosthenes was not confined to political and topographical description: of the three books, into which the work was distributed, it is said that the third only contained particular description, and the first two contained a history of geography, a criticism of the sources of which the author availed himself, and matters pertaining to physical and mathematical geography : the whole was accompanied by a new map of the world. Though this work was severely criticised by Hipparchus, it does not appear that the Greeks had any other systematic treatise on geography before that of Stfabo. But the materials for a geographical writer had been greatly increased between the time of Eratosthenes and Strabo, and those materials were partly furnished by historical writers, and adventurers by sea and land: the conquests of the Romans also had opened countries which were almost unknown to the contemporaries of Eratosthenes.
There is no ground for viewing the Geography of Strabo as a new edition of that of Eratosthenes, though it is clear from his own work that the treatise of Eratosthenes furnished the foundation for his new undertaking, and also furnished him with many materials, which however he had to examine, to correct, and to add to. Strabo's work, according to his own expression, was not intended for the use of all persons ; and indeed no complete geographical work can be adapted to those who have not the necessary elementary knowledge. His work was intended for all who had a good education, and particularly for those who were engaged in the higher departments of administration ; it was designed to be a work which would give such persons that geographical and historical information about each country which a person engaged in matters political cannot do without. Consistently with this view, his plan does not comprehend minute description, except when the place or the object is of great interest or importance ; nor is his description limited to the physical characteristics of each country ; it comprehends the important political events of which each country has been the theatre, a notice of the chief cities and the great men who have illustrated them ; in short, whatever was most characteristic and interesting in every country. His work forms a striking contrast with the geography of Ptolemaeus, and the dry list of names, occasionally relieved by something added to them, in the geographical portion of the Natural History of Plinius. It is in short a book intended for reading, and it may be read ; a kind of historical geography.
Strabo's work has a particular value to us of the present day, owing to his method of handling the subject: he has preserved a great number of historical facts for which we have no other evidence than his work. His language is generally clear,,
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