Sir William Smith William Latham Bevan.

The student's manual of ancient geography online

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classical CharrcB; it appears to have been a place of considerable trade
in Esekiers time (Ez. xxvii. 23). " Ur of the Chaldees ** is by many
supposed to be at Edessa^ in the same neighbourhood; by others it
has been placed to the 8.W. of Nineveh ; it was probably a district^
and not a town, and we can only say with certainty that it was to the
E. of Haran (Gen. xi. 31). The district of Goftan (2 K. xix. 12;,
whither, a colony of Israelites was transplanted (2 K. xvii. 6 ; 1 Chron.
▼. 26), lay about the upper couree of the Habor (fi .K. xvii. 6), the
Aborraa or Chaboras of classical geography. Alon^ the course of the
Euphrates we have notice of Carchemiah (Jer. xlvi. 2 ; 2 Chron. xxxv.


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20), Circesmmf nt the junction of the ChaboraB, the scene of the great
battle between Necho and Nebuchadnezzar; Hena, lower down the
river at Anatha ; and Sepharvaim, Sippara^ on the borders of Babylonia,
the oapture of which is noticed in the Assyrian inscriptions (2 K. xvii.
24, xix. 13). The positions of Rezeph and Thelassar (2 K. xix. 12) are
uncertain : the former is supposed to be liisaphaj on the W. of the
Euphrates, S.W, of Thapsacus, and the latter, Teledn^ in the same


§ 13. Babylonia and Assyria were at different periods the seats of
the most y/owerful empires of Western Asia. Their early import-
ance is testified by the notice of their capitals in the Mosaic ethno-
logical table (Gen. x. 10-12). In the time of Abraham a powerful
confederacy issued from those regions, which extended its conquests
for a while almost to the shores of the Mediterranean (Gen. xiv.).
At a still later period the Assyrian armies overran Palestine, carried
the ten tribes captive, and threatened the destruction of Jerusalem
itself. This, however, was reserved for the Babylonian dynasty, ^
which succeeded to the supremacy of the west after the overthrow
of Nineveh by Cyaxares. The remnant of the Jewish nation was
carried into captivity, and passed a lengthened period in the terri-
tories of the king of Babylon.

(1.) Names. — The southern district of Babylonia was known as
"Shinar," and sometimes as the "land of the Chaldeeans :'' Assyria
was designated *' Asshur," after the original occupant of that district.

(2.) Capitals of Babylonia. — The Bible gives the names of four cities as
having been originally founded by Nimrod in the plain of Shinai'— Babel,
Erech, Accad, and C^lneh (Oen. x. 10) : in addition to these, we have
notice of Ellasar (Gen. xiv. 1 ). The sites of these towns have not been
identified with ceiiiaintv. (i.) It is doubtful whether the Babel of
Nimrod's kingdom is the same as the Babvlon of history, which was
of comparatively recent date. The name ** Babel " is supposed to mean
" gate of Belus," and we may perhaps identify it with a town which
was dedicated to Belus, and probably bore the name of Belus, the site of
which is marked by the mound of Niffer^ about 50 miles to the S.E. of
Babylon, (ii.) Erech, the residence of the Archevitee, may be identified
with the modem Warka^ situated near the left bank of the Euphrates,
about 80 miles S.E. of Babylon: (iii.) Aocad with the remains at
Akker-kufy near Baghdad: (iv.) Calneh with the classical Ctesfphon:
(v.) EUaafu- with Senkcreh, about 15 miles S.E. of Wdrka. The fanie of
these cities, however, wa« wholly eclipsed by the rise of the later
capital on the banks of the Euphrates — the Babylon of history, to
which the name of Babel was transferred — the ruins of which at fiillah
still strike the beholder with astonishment. This city is described at
length in a future chapter.

(3.) Capitals of Assyria, — These are described in the following terms
in the Bible:— "Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded
Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, and Reseu between Nineveh
and Calah: the same is a great city" (Gen. x. 11, 12). The identifica-
tion of these pllces is not yet satisfactorily settled. The mounds
opposite Mosul, named Kouyunjik and Nehhi Yxnws^ no doubt represent
Kineveh, or a portion of it: it has been further conjectured that the


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Chap. I.



Map to llhutnte the GHtltato of Bftbylonia and AMjrfa.

citj may have extended over the whole quadnmgular space inoloeed
between the four points, Kouyvnjikf Nimroud^ Khorsabadf and Karamies,
in which case Jonah's description of it as " a city of three days' journey"
would be strictly verified : this, however, is not decided. If Calah be
identified with Kalah-Shcrgat^ as the name suggests, then Nimroud would
naturally represent the "great" city of Reseo, which, according to the
Bible, was between Calah and Nineveh. Rehoboth or Rehoboth Ir
cannot be fixed at anyplace: the name describes the ''broad, open
streets" of an Oriental town.

§ 14, With regard to the opinions of the Hebrews as to the form,
the size, and divisions of the earth, our information is bttt scanty,
being derived wholly from scattered notices, many of which occur


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in the poetical books of the Bible, and do not admit of being con-
strued too rigidly.

(1.) The earth was circular (Is. xl. 22), with Jerusalem as its centre
(Jit, V. 5) or navel (Judg. ix. 37 ; Ez. xxxviii. 12). and bounded on all
sides bv the ocean (Deut. xxx. 13 ; Job xxvi. 10 ; Ps. cxxxix. 9; Prov.
viii. 27). The passages we have quoted cannot indeed be considered as
conclusive ; for a place may be described as centrally situated, without any
idea of a circle entering into our minds, and Jerusalem was undoubtedly
so situated with regard to the great seats of power, Egypt and Me-
sopotamia. Still the view, derived primd facie from the words in Ez.
V. 5, harmonizes with what experience would lead us to expect, and it
was retained on the strength of that passage by a lai^e section of the
Christian world even so late as the 14th century, as instanced in the
map of the world still existing in Hereford cathednd.

(2.) The earth was divided into four quarters, corresponding to the
four points of the compass : the most usual method of describing these
was by their position relatively to a person looking towards the east,
in which case the terms ** before," "behind," " the right hand," and
" the left hand," would represent respectively E., W., S., and N. (Job
xxiii. 8, 9). Occasionally they were described relatively to the sun's
course, "the rising," " the setting," "the brilliant quarter" (Ez. xl.
24V and "the dark quarter" (Ez. xxvi. 20), representing the four
pomts in the same order. The north appears to have been regarded
as the highest, and so the heaviest, portion of the earth's surface (Job
xxvi. 7).

(3.) The Hebrews, as other primitive nations, gave an undue import-
ance tcp the earth, in comparison with the other parts of the universe.
It was the central body, to which sun, moon, and stiirs were strictly
subordinate. The heaven was regarded as the roof of man's abode—
the curtain of the tent stretched out for his protection f Ps. civ. 2 ; Is.
xl. 22) : it was supposed to rest on the edges of the earth s circle, where
it had its "foundations" (2 Sam. xxii. 8) and its massive pillars (Job
xxvi. 11). It was the " firmament " for the support of the reservoirs of
thei rain (Oen. i. 7 ; Ps. cxlviii. 4), which descended through its win-
dows (Gen. vii. 11 ; Is. xxiv. 18) and doors (Ps. Ixxviii. 23). The sun,
moon, and stars were fixed in this heaven, and had their respective
offices assigned with an exclusive regard to the wants and convenience
of the earth (Gen. i. 14-18; Ps. civ. 19-23). Beneath the earth was
sheol, "hell," which extended beneath the sea (Job xxvi. 5, 6), and
was thus supposed to be conterminous with the upper world : it had in
poetical language its gates (Is. xxxviii 10) and bars (Job xvU. 16), and
WW *lie abode of departed spirit*, " the house appmnted for the Uving "
(Job XXX. 23), XT' -o

»«iyl^2r, ""'**'>« *•>« "Object of early Biblical geography, it
laiaeiias */»e rf • ^"^V^^ *^* reader that the Hebrew names are re-
tbem tArcn^u ^^^igaationa of the tribes or the countries inhabited by
»'»«!5&»^t^/o« ibo wijole of tho (31d Testament. Onr translatoi-s
^ZJ'^-^^^tC"'^'^ f^°P*«d the ni^flical names instead, and thus we
^4^4« ». A>^« -for 4ftr«K^im; "Ethiopia" for Cush ;
"*^T^ ^Of Ch^rrrt . .??-%P" for Javan; "Armenia" for

^are -


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Map of the World, according to Homer



§ 1 . Homer : the extent and sources of his information. Progress of
maritime discovery. § 2. General views of the earth's form. § 3. Its
divisions. § 4. Real geography— Greece, Asia Minor, &c. § 5.
Poetical geography. § 6. Hesfod. § 7. ^schylus. § 8. Pindar.

§ 1. The earliest description of the worid in classical literature is
foimd in the Homeric poems. Without fixing the date of their
composition, we may safely assume that they represent the views
of the Greeks from about the 10th to the 8th century B.C. Homer
is supposed' to have been a native of Smyrna : however this may
he, there is abundant evidence in the poems themselves that he had
lived for some time in Greece ; his descriptions are those of an eye-
witness : he must have been acquainted with all that lies southwards

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of the Ambracian Gulf on the western coast, and of Olympus on the
eastern, though more intimately with some parts than others. The
western coast of Asia Minor was also known to him. Beyond these
limits his information was evidently derived from vague reports,
and it becomes an interesting question whence these rcjwrts were
obtained. In order to ascertain this, we must cast a glance at the
progress of early maritime discovery. The Greeks themselves were
not a seafaring race in that age : a voyage from Greece to Troy was
regarded as a hazardous undertaking ; to Africa or Egypt, a terrible
affair {Od, iii. 318); to Phoenicia no less so (//. vi. 291). Even the
seafaring Phaeacians considered a voyage round the coast of Greece
from Scheria to Eubcea a long one ( Od, vii. 321). The Greeks must
therefore have heard of distant lands from other more enterprising
nations — among which we may notice firstly the Phoenicians, and
secondly the Carians and Cretans.

(I.) The Phcmicians, — The Phoenicians carried on a most extended
commerce long before the age of Homer: the coasts of Spain (Tarshish)
and of Northern Africa were flBUuiliar to them ; in ehoi't, the Mediterra-
nean was a Phoenician lake. From their colonies about the Bosporus
they carried on trade with the Euxine, and in other directions (as we
know from Scripture) with Syria, Armenia, Southern Arabia, Africa,
and India. They had settled on the islands of the ^gsean, and even on
the mainland of Greece, and Homer speaks of them {Od, xv. 415, 458;
//. xxiii. 743) in terms' which prove that the Phoenicians carried on an
active trade m those parts ; Corinth in |>articular had risen to wealth
(//. ii. 570) through their presence. Then: influence is strongly marked
in Homeric geography : there can be no doubt that the more distant
points noticed, such as the Ocean, the-Cimmetians, the Ocean mouth,
Atlas, the land of JEbba, &o., were known to the Greeks only through the
reports, designedly obscured and inve«ted with terror, of the Phoenician

(2.) The Carians. — The Carians appear to have been the earliest race
connected with the Greeks, who established themselves as a naval
power in the JEgsean sea. They were the "corsairs" of antiquity
(Thuc. i. 8), and had stations on most of the islands as well as on the
mainland of Asia Minor. They also possessed Cius on the Propontis,
whence they traded with the shores of the Euxine Sea.

(3.) The Cretans.^The Cretans succeeded the Carians in their naval
supremacy: to Minos was assigned. the credit of having swept away
piracy from the waters of the Mediterranean (Thuc. i. 4), reducing the
Carians to peaceable submission, and prosecuting naval expeditions as
far as Phoenicia in one direction (Herod, i. 2) and Sicily in the other
(Herod, vii. 170). The period of Cretan supremacy is placed before the
Trojan War, at which time it had declined (//. ii. 652).

(4.) The Argonautic Expedition, — ^The legend of this expedition was
probably founded on the accounts, which some of these seafaring nations
communicated, about the commercial wealth of the Euxine Sea and the
dangers that attended its navigation. That the Greeks themselves
tmdertook such an expedition we think highly improbable ; but we see
no grounds for doubting that the Phoenicians carried on an active trade


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from Pronectus, and the Carians from Ciiis ; and that the commercial
route, which was known to exist in later times betiveen Central Asia
and Europe, by the Oxua to the Caspian, and thence by the courses of
the Cvrus and the Phasis to the Euxine, was established as early as the
period we are now describing. The story of the Argonauts, as it comes
before us, is evidently the fabrication of many generations. Homer
(Od. xii. 69 ff.) merely notices the passage of the Argo between the
whirling rocks on its return from Mhqa. The golden fleece is iirst
noticed by a writer of Solon's age (Strab. i. p. 46), and the earliest
detailed account now extant is that of Pindar {Pyth. iv.) The position
of MgsA — the route which the Argonauts pureued—and the extent of
their voyage —were altered and enlarged from time to time to suit the
ge<$jgraphical knowledge of the day.

§ 2. Horaer is styled by Strabo the " author of geographical experi-
mental science,"* in reference to the particular knowledge of places
and institutions displayed in his poems. In as far as the actual
experience of Homer or his countrymen is concerned, he fully merits
the praise bestowed upon him by Strabo ; but beyond this range
his geography is involved in inextricable confusion. Homer had
no idea of the spherical form of the earth: he conceived it to be
the upper surface of a body of great thickness, which was as
round as the shield of Achilles {U, xviii. 607), and so flat that a
god could look across it from Lycia to Scheria {Od, v. 282). This
circular surface was edged by a river liamed Oceanus, just as a
shield is bordered by its rim. On either side of this body, he con-
ceived a dometl covering to rest, the firmament of heaven on the
upper side, and on the lower surface Tartarus, the counterpart of
heaven, and equi-distant from the earth. In the interior of the
earth's body was situated Hades, the abode of the dead. The earth's
surface was divided between the masses of land and water, the
latter occupying the largest sptice. Oceanus was regarded as the
parent of all other bodies of water, the " sea," *. e. the Mediterranean,
being connected with it at its western extremity, and the rivers by
subterranean channels. The sea (BSKacrcrcL, itoptos, wcXayor, Sks)
was supposed to extend indefinitely to the north, and perhaps to be
connected with the Euxine in that direction : in the N.W. lay the
fabled island of Ogygia, " the navel of the sea," the centre of an un-
limited expanse.

§ 3. The land was regarded as a single imdivided body — the
names Europe, Asia, and Libya marking, not the continental
divisions, but particular regions, Europe (which first appears in one
of the hymns) the northern part of Greece, Asia the alluvial plain
about the Caj^ster, and Libya a maritime tract west of Egypt. The
usual division of the earth into quarters is not recognised by Homer,
but instead of this we have it divided into hcUvea, the eastern and

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western, the former being described as the sunny side of the
earth (irp6s fi& r ij€\i6v re), and the latter as the dark side {vpht
C6(f>ov), Sunrise and sunset were, therefore, the cardinal points
in Homeric geography, and had their features of similarity and
contrast. As the sun apparently approached the earth at those
points, its power was held to be greater there than elsewhere, and
accordingly the people who lived in the adjacent regions, whether
in the E. or W., were named ^Ethiopians, " dark complexioned :'* at
each too there was a country called uEaea, which seems to be an
appellative for an extremely distant land. In the E. was the
" Lake of the Sim," whence he arose, as a " giant refreshed," to take
his daily course ; in the W. was the "glittering rock** Leucas, which
formed the portal of his chamber. The W., as being tbe side of
darkness, was naturally connected with the subject of death : there,
consequently, Homer placed Elysium, the abode of the blessed, and
the entrance to Hades — the former on this side, the latter on the
other side of the stream of Ocean.

$ 4. In considering the special localities noticed by Homer, we
have to distinguish the real or historical from the fanciful or
mythical. It is difficult to draw an accurate line of demarcation, as
there is a certain substratum of truth in many of the descriptions,
which yet cannot be reconciled with fact. Generally speaking it
will be found that all the notices of peoples and places in the E.
and S. are reconcilable with fact, while the greater part of the
notices in the W. and N. fall within the range of fiction, so that
if a straight line were drawn through Corey ra in the direction of
N.E. and S.W., it would divide the Homeric world with tolerable
accuracy into the regions of fact and fiction. In the former district
would be included the southern coast of the Euxine, the Mgeetm
Sea, and the coasts of the Mediterranean eastward of Greece ; while
in the latter we should have the confused notices of Sicily and Italy,
and the fabulous voyages from the Mediterranean t^ the Euxine and
the western coast of Greece. The notices of special localities are,
as might be supposed, very unequally dispersed, Greece and the
western coast of Asia Minor being tolerably well filled up, while the
more distant countries are but indefinitely described.

Details of the Uomeric Geography. — Most of the important rivers and
mountains of Greece have a place in Homer. Of the former, Achelous,
*' the king of rivers," CephiBus, Asopus, Alpheus, Spercheus, Enipeus.
l^taresius ; of the latter, Olympus, the abode of the gods, Ossa and
Pelion, Parnassus, Taygetus, and Erymanthus. The lakes Bosbeifl and
Cephisis, and the promontories Suniom and Malea are also noticed.
Homer knew no general name for Greece : Hellas is with him but a
small district in the south of Thessaly, and the Hellenes the inhabit-
ants of that district : Peloponnesus is first noticed in one of thf»
Hymns; in the earlier poems it is described by the term Middle Argos.


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Of the names of provinces in northern Greece, afterwards familiar to
us, only iStolia, the Locri, Boeotia, and Phocis appear ; Acamania is
named Epirus ; the plain of Tiiessaly, Pelasgic Argos ; Epirus mi^,
perchance, be referred to under the name Apeira {Od. vii. 8). In
Peloponnesus, Elis, Messenisi, and Arcadia are named, while Argolis
appears under the name Argos, and Laconia as .Lacedsemon. The
names of the occupants of these provinces are, in many instances,
different from those of later times. Homer describes the general mass
of the nation under the three names, Danaans, Argives, and Achseans.
Among the special names we may notice the Curetes in iEtolia, the
Cadmeans about Thebes, the Minyans about Orchomenus in Boeotia,
and northwards of the Pagaseean gulf ; the iEthices in the N.W. of
Thessaly, the Selli about Dodona, the Epeans in Elis, and the Caucones
in Triphylia. At this period the northern coast of the Peloponnesus
was inhabited by lonians, Argos and Laconia by Achsans, and Coiiuth
by JBolians. Achaoans were also settled in southern Thessaly. The
towns are generally described as we afterwards know them : it should
be noted, however, that there are two Dodonas, one in Thessaly (//•
ii. 750), and the other in Epirus (//. zvi. 234): Delphi appears under
the name Pytho: Corinth is also described as Eph^rc (//. vi. 152):
Pylus, Nestor's capital, is probably the Messenian town of that name, .
though those in Triphylia and Elis contested the honour.

In Asia Minor we have on the western coast the rivers, JSseptis,
Granicus, Simuis, Scamander (or Xanthus), Hermus, Cavster, Mseander,
and several lesser streams ; and the mountains, Ida with the peak Gar-
gftrus, Placus, Tmolus and its offset Sip^liw, and Mycftle ; on the northern
coast only the rivers Sangarius and Parthenius : on the southern, the
river Xanthus, and perchance a reference to Mount Chimsera with
its jets of inflammable gas in //. vi. 179 ; bevond this limit, the Ale'ian
field in Cilicia is the only object. The inhabitants of the peninsula
were arranged thus : on the western coast, the Dard&ni in Troas ; the
Mysians, Ceteans, and Cilicians, in Mysia'; the Mseonians in Lydia;
and the Carians^in Caria : on the northern coast, the Amaztoos about
the Parthenius, the Halizones and HenCti in Paphlagonia, and the
Cauc&nes in Bithynia : on the southern, the Lycians in Lycia, and the
Solymi more to the east: in the interior, the Phrygians, and the
Paphlagonians. Of the places on the coast, Ilium ¥011 be hereafter
described : Thebe, the residence of the Cilicians, was near Placus ;
Larissa was a Pelas^c town in ^olis ; Miletus was in existence ;
several towns are noticed in Paphlagonia (/?. ii. 853), but there is some
doubt whether the passage is not interpolated.

Proceeding to countries less known to Homer, we find the Syrians
noticed under the name Ailmi, connected with the Biblical Aram ;
then, the Phcenicians and especially the Sidonians ; and the Erembi,
another form of the name Arabians, at the S.E. angle of the Mediter-
ranean. In Africa, the Nile is described as iEgyptus, with the isle
Pharos at a day*s sail distance from its mouth, and the hundred-gated
Thebes on its banks. West of Egypt was Libya, and still more to the
.westward the Lotophftgi, while in the extreme south, by the Ocean,
were the Pigmies. Both of the two last mentioned peoples had a real
existence : Sie Lotophagi are noticed by Herodotus (iv. 177) as living
on the shore of the I^esser Syrtis, and both eating and extracting an
intoxicating liquor from the lotus or jujube: the same writer (ii. 82)
also notices dw«rf races in the interior of Africa : the lotus ia still eaten
in Tripoli, and a dwarfish race, the Dokos, are known to exist in the S.W.


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of Abyssinia. Atlas, in Homer, is not the mountain range of that
name, but rather a deity, the pei*8ouification of the power which
sustained the vaidt of heaven.

North of the ^gsean Sea, the mountains Athos and Nyseium, and
the countries Pieria, Pwonia, Emathia in Macedonia, the CicOues on the
coast of Thrace, the Mysi on the western coast of the Euxine, Thrace
in the interior, and in the extreme north the Scythian tribes Hippe-
molgi (** mare-milkers"^ and Abii are mentioned.

A&ny of the islands ot the ^gseanand Ionian seas ai'e mentioned : —
Delos is occasionally named Ortygia ; Eubcea appears as the residence
of the Abantes ; the Calydnian isles {LI. ii. 677) were a group off the
coast of Caria ; Carpathus is named Crapftthus ; Crete waa occupied
by a variety of tribes, Eteocrctans, Cydonians, Dorians, Achaoans, and
Pelasgians, and possessed ninety {Od. xiv. 174), or according to //. ii.
649, a hundred cities ; the inhabitants of Lemnos are named Sintians,
a Thracian tribe of *' robbers " {eivofiai) ; Samothrace is given in its
resolved form "the Thracian Samos:" TemSsa, whither the Taphians
traded for copper, was probably in Cyprus, but it has also been
identified with Tempsa in Italy. In the Ionian Sea, the group oflF the
coast of Acamania is frequently referred to ; the occupants are named
Cephallenians, the island afterwards called after them being named
Samoa or Same ; Lecucadla or Leucas is described as a promontory
of the mainland ; Ithaca is fully and accurately described. The
Echin&des lie opposite the mouth of the Acheloiis ; Dulichium is
generally supposed to have been the largest of the group, but it
may have been situated on the mainland and hence is described as

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