Home About Network of subjects Linked subjects heatmap Book indices included Search by subject Search by reference Browse subjects Browse texts

Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database

Strabo, Geography, 7.3.8

nanThose, however, who lived before our times, and particularly those who lived near the time of Homer, were — and among the Greeks were assumed to be — some such people as Homer describes. And see what Herodotus says concerning that king of the Scythians against whom Dareius made his expedition, and the message which the king sent back to him. See also what Chrysippus says concerning the kings of the Bosporus, the house of Leuco. And not only the Persian letters are full of references to that straightforwardness of which I am speaking but also the memoirs written by the Egyptians, Babylonians, and Indians. And it was on this account that Anacharsis, Abaris, and other men of the sort were in fair repute among the Greeks, because they displayed a nature characterized by complacency, frugality, and justice. But why should I speak of the men of olden times? For when Alexander, the son of Philip, on his expedition against the Thracians beyond the Haemus, invaded the country of the Triballians and saw that it extended as far as the Ister and the island of Peuce in the Ister, and that the parts on the far side were held by the Getae, he went as far as that, it is said, but could not disembark upon the island because of scarcity of boats (for Syrmus, the king of the Triballi had taken refuge there and resisted his attempts); he did, however, cross over to the country of the Getae, took their city, and returned with all speed to his home-land, after receiving gifts from the tribes in question and from Syrmus. And Ptolemaeus, the son of Lagus, says that on this expedition the Celti who lived about the Adriatic joined Alexander for the sake of establishing friendship and hospitality, and that the king received them kindly and asked them when drinking what it was that they most feared, thinking they would say himself, but that they replied they feared no one, unless it were that Heaven might fall on them, although indeed they added that they put above everything else the friendship of such a man as he. And the following are signs of the straightforwardness of the barbarians: first, the fact that Syrmus refused to consent to the debarkation upon the island and yet sent gifts and made a compact of friendship; and, secondly, that the Celti said that they feared no one, and yet valued above everything else the friendship of great men. Again, Dromichaetes was king of the Getae in the time of the successors of Alexander. Now he, when he captured Lysimachus alive, who had made an expedition against him, first pointed out the poverty both of himself and of his tribe and likewise their independence of others, and then bade him not to carry on war with people of that sort but rather to deal with them as friends; and after saying this he first entertained him as a guest, and made a compact of friendship, and then released him. Moreover, Plato in his Republic thinks that those who would have a well-governed city should flee as far as possible from the sea, as being a thing that teaches wickedness, and should not live near it.

Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

2 results
1. Herodotus, Histories, 4.12-4.13, 4.15, 4.36 (5th cent. BCE - 5th cent. BCE)

4.12. And to this day there are Cimmerian walls in Scythia, and a Cimmerian ferry, and there is a country Cimmeria and a strait named Cimmerian. ,Furthermore, it is evident that the Cimmerians in their flight from the Scythians into Asia also made a colony on the peninsula where the Greek city of Sinope has since been founded; and it is clear that the Scythians pursued them and invaded Media, missing their way; ,for the Cimmerians always fled along the coast, and the Scythians pursued with the Caucasus on their right until they came into the Median land, turning inland on their way. That is the other story current among Greeks and foreigners alike. 4.13. There is also a story related in a poem by Aristeas son of Caüstrobius, a man of Proconnesus . This Aristeas, possessed by Phoebus, visited the Issedones; beyond these (he said) live the one-eyed Arimaspians, beyond whom are the griffins that guard gold, and beyond these again the Hyperboreans, whose territory reaches to the sea. ,Except for the Hyperboreans, all these nations (and first the Arimaspians) are always at war with their neighbors; the Issedones were pushed from their lands by the Arimaspians, and the Scythians by the Issedones, and the Cimmerians, living by the southern sea, were hard pressed by the Scythians and left their country. Thus Aristeas' story does not agree with the Scythian account about this country. 4.15. Such is the tale told in these two towns. But this, I know, happened to the Metapontines in Italy, two hundred and forty years after the second disappearance of Aristeas, as reckoning made at Proconnesus and Metapontum shows me: ,Aristeas, so the Metapontines say, appeared in their country and told them to set up an altar to Apollo, and set beside it a statue bearing the name of Aristeas the Proconnesian; for, he said, Apollo had come to their country alone of all Italian lands, and he—the man who was now Aristeas, but then when he followed the god had been a crow—had come with him. ,After saying this, he vanished. The Metapontines, so they say, sent to Delphi and asked the god what the vision of the man could mean; and the Pythian priestess told them to obey the vision, saying that their fortune would be better. ,They did as instructed. And now there stands beside the image of Apollo a statue bearing the name of Aristeas; a grove of bay-trees surrounds it; the image is set in the marketplace. Let it suffice that I have said this much about Aristeas. 4.36. I have said this much of the Hyperboreans, and let it suffice; for I do not tell the story of that Abaris, alleged to be a Hyperborean, who carried the arrow over the whole world, fasting all the while. But if there are men beyond the north wind, then there are others beyond the south. ,And I laugh to see how many have before now drawn maps of the world, not one of them reasonably; for they draw the world as round as if fashioned by compasses, encircled by the Ocean river, and Asia and Europe of a like extent. For myself, I will in a few words indicate the extent of the two, and how each should be drawn.
2. Strabo, Geography, 1.1.17, 4.5.3, 5.1.8, 7.3.9, 16.4.24, 17.1.19

1.1.17. 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, 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 Malea 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 Aeolia 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 Thermopylae 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 Pylae. But passing over ancient occurrences, we think that the late expeditions 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. 4.5.3. Divus Caesar 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. 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 Caesar, 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. 5.1.8. Opitergium, Concordia, Atria, Vicetia, 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, 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, near to where Cnaeus Carbo was defeated in his attack upon the Kimbrians. This place contains fine stations for gold washing and iron-works. At the very head of the Adriatic is the Timavum, a sanctuary consecrated to Diomedes, 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. 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, and after flowing under ground about 130 stadia, discharges itself into the sea. 7.3.9. Ephorus, in the fourth book of his history, the book entitled Europe (for he made the circuit of Europe as far as the Scythians), says towards the end that the modes of life both of the Sauromatae and of the other Scythians are unlike, for, whereas some are so cruel that they even eat human beings, others abstain from eating any living creature whatever. Now the other writers, he says, tell only about their savagery, because they know that the terrible and the marvellous are startling, but one should tell the opposite facts too and make them patterns of conduct, and he himself, therefore, will tell only about those who follow most just habits, for there are some of the Scythian Nomads who feed only on mare's milk, and excel all men in justice; and they are mentioned by the poets: by Homer, when he says that Zeus espies the land of the Galactophagi and Abii, men most just, and by Hesiod, in what is called his Circuit of the Earth, when he says that Phineus is carried by the Storm Winds to the land of the Galactophagi, who have their dwellings in wagons. Then Ephorus reasons out the cause as follows: since they are frugal in their ways of living and not money-getters, they not only are orderly towards one another, because they have all things in common, their wives, children, the whole of their kin and everything, but also remain invincible and unconquered by outsiders, because they have nothing to be enslaved for. And he cites Choerilus also, who, in his The Crossing of the Pontoon-Bridge which was constructed by Dareius, says, the sheep-tending Sacae, of Scythian stock; but they used to live in wheat-producing Asia; however, they were colonists from the Nomads, law-abiding people. And when he calls Anacharsis wise, Ephorus says that he belongs to this race, and that he was considered also one of Seven Wise Men because of his perfect self-control and good sense. And he goes on to tell the inventions of Anacharsis — the bellows, the two-fluked anchor and the potter's wheel. These things I tell knowing full well that Ephorus himself does not tell the whole truth about everything; and particularly in his account of Anacharsis (for how could the wheel be his invention, if Homer, who lived in earlier times, knew of it? As when a potter his wheel that fits in his hands, and so on); but as for those other things, I tell them because I wish to make my point clear that there actually was a common report, which was believed by the men of both early and of later times, that a part of the Nomads, I mean those who had settled the farthest away from the rest of mankind, were galactophagi, abii, and most just, and that they were not an invention of Homer. 16.4.24. Another cause of the failure of the expedition was the fact of king Obodas not paying much attention to public affairs, and especially to those relative to war (as is the custom with all Arabian kings), but placed everything in the power of Syllaeus the minister. His whole conduct in command of the army was perfidious, and his object was, as I suppose, to examine as a spy the state of the country, and to destroy, in concert with the Romans, certain cities and tribes; and when the Romans should be consumed by famine, fatigue, and disease, and by all the evils which he had treacherously contrived, to declare himself master of the whole country.Gallus however arrived at Leuce Come, with the army labouring under stomacacce and scelotyrbe, diseases of the country, the former affecting the mouth, the other the legs, with a kind of paralysis, caused by the water and the plants [which the soldiers had used in their food]. He was therefore compelled to pass the summer and the winter there, for the recovery of the sick.Merchandise is conveyed from Leuce-Come to Petra, thence to Rhinocolura in Phoenicia, near Egypt, and thence to other nations. But at present the greater part is transported by the Nile to Alexandreia. It is brought down from Arabia and India to Myus Hormus, it is then conveyed on camels to Coptus of the Thebais, situated on a canal of the Nile, and to Alexandreia. Gallus, setting out again from Leuce-Come on his return with his army, and through the treachery of his guide, traversed such tracts of country, that the army was obliged to carry water with them upon camels. After a march of many days, therefore, he came to the territory of Aretas, who was related to Obodas. Aretas received him in a friendly manner, and offered presents. But by the treachery of Syllaeus, Gallus was conducted by a difficult road through the country ; for he occupied thirty days in passing through it. It afforded barley, a few palm trees, and butter instead of oil.The next country to which he came belonged to Nomades, and was in great part a complete desert. It was called Ararene. The king of the country was Sabos. Gallus spent fifty days in passing through this territory, for want of roads, and came to a city of the Negrani, and to a fertile country peacefully disposed. The king had fled, and the city was taken at the first onset. After a march of six days from thence, he came to the river. Here the barbarians attacked the Romans, and lost about ten thousand men; the Romans lost only two men. For the barbarians were entirely inexperienced in war, and used their weapons unskilfully, which were bows, spears, swords, and slings; but the greater part of them wielded a double-edged axe. Immediately afterwards he took the city called Asca, which had been abandoned by the king. He thence came to a city Athrula, and took it without resistance; having placed a garrison there, and collected provisions for the march, consisting of corn and dates, he proceeded to a city Marsiaba, belonging to the nation of the Rhammanitae, who were subjects of Ilasarus. He assaulted and besieged it for six days, but raised the siege in consequence of a scarcity of water. He was two days' march from the aromatic region, as he was informed by his prisoners. He occupied in his marches a period of six months, in consequence of the treachery of his guides. This he discovered when he was returning; and although he was late in discovering the design against him, he had time to take another road back; for he arrived in nine days at Negrana, where the battle was fought, and thence in eleven days he came to the 'Seven Wells,' as the place is called from the fact of their existing there. Thence he marched through a desert country, and came to Chaalla a village, and then to another called Malothas, situated on a river. His road then lay through a desert country, which had only a few watering-places, as far as Egra a village. It belongs to the territory of Obodas, and is situated upon the sea. He accomplished on his return the whole distance in sixty days, in which, on his first journey, he had consumed six months. From there he conducted his army in eleven days to Myus Hormus; thence across the country to Coptus, and arrived at Alexandreia with so much of his army as could be saved. The remainder he lost, not by the enemy, but by disease, fatigue, famine, and marches through bad roads ; for seven men only perished in battle. For these reasons this expedition contributed little in extending our knowledge of the country. It was however of some small service.Syllaeus, the author of these disasters, was punished for his treachery at Rome. He affected friendship, but he was convicted of other offences, besides perfidy in this instance, and was beheaded. 17.1.19. In the interior above the Sebennytic and Phatnitic mouths is Xois, both an island and a city in the Sebennytic Nome. There are also Hermopolis, Lycopolis, and Mendes, where Pan is worshipped, and of animals a goat. Here, according to Pindar, goats have intercourse with women.Near Mendes are Diospolis, and the lakes about it, and Leontopolis; then further on, the city Busiris, in the Busirite Nome, and Cynospolis.Eratosthenes says, 'That to repel strangers is a practice common to all barbarians, but that this charge against the Egyptians is derived from fabulous stories related of (one) Busiris and his people in the Busirite Nome, as some persons in later times were disposed to charge the inhabitants of this place with inhospitality, although in truth there was neither king nor tyrant of the name of Busiris: that besides there was a common saying, The way to Egypt is long and vexatious, which originated in the want of harbours, and in the state of the harbour at Pharos, which was not of free access, but watched and guarded by herdsmen, who were robbers, and attacked those who attempted to sail into it. The Carthaginians drown [he says] any strangers who sail past, on their voyage to Sardinia or to the Pillars. Hence much of what is related of the parts towards the west is discredited. The Persians also were treacherous guides, and conducted the ambassadors along circuitous and difficult ways.'

Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
alexander the great Gruen (2020), Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter, 30
anacharsis Gagne (2021), Cosmography and the Idea of Hyperborea in Ancient Greece, 289
anatolia/asia minor Gruen (2020), Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter, 30
arrow Gagne (2021), Cosmography and the Idea of Hyperborea in Ancient Greece, 289
barbarians/barbarity,brutal and cruel behavior ascribed to Gruen (2020), Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter, 30
barbarians/barbarity,crossing cultural boundaries Gruen (2020), Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter, 30
barbarians/barbarity,praise accorded to Gruen (2020), Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter, 30
barbarians/barbarity,strabo on Gruen (2020), Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter, 30
boundary Gagne (2021), Cosmography and the Idea of Hyperborea in Ancient Greece, 289
egypt Gruen (2020), Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter, 30
egyptians Gruen (2020), Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter, 30
etruscans/tyrrhenians Gruen (2020), Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter, 30
flying Gagne (2021), Cosmography and the Idea of Hyperborea in Ancient Greece, 289
gauls/celts Gruen (2020), Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter, 30
herodotus Gagne (2021), Cosmography and the Idea of Hyperborea in Ancient Greece, 289
identity as hybrid and malleable,between greeks and barbarians Gruen (2020), Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter, 30
language as identity marker,shifting between barbarians and greeks or romans Gruen (2020), Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter, 30
lydia/lydians Gruen (2020), Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter, 30
oikoumenē Gagne (2021), Cosmography and the Idea of Hyperborea in Ancient Greece, 289
pindar Gagne (2021), Cosmography and the Idea of Hyperborea in Ancient Greece, 289
possession Gagne (2021), Cosmography and the Idea of Hyperborea in Ancient Greece, 289
rome/romans,and barbarians Gruen (2020), Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter, 30
rome/romans,and gauls Gruen (2020), Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter, 30
scythians Gruen (2020), Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter, 30
sky Gagne (2021), Cosmography and the Idea of Hyperborea in Ancient Greece, 289
spain/spaniards/iberia/iberians Gruen (2020), Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter, 30
strabo Gruen (2020), Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter, 30
travel Gagne (2021), Cosmography and the Idea of Hyperborea in Ancient Greece, 289
wonder Gagne (2021), Cosmography and the Idea of Hyperborea in Ancient Greece, 289
xenophobia/misanthropy' Gruen (2020), Ethnicity in the Ancient World - Did it matter, 30