Sir William Smith William Latham Bevan.

The student's manual of ancient geography online

. (page 7 of 82)
Online LibrarySir William Smith William Latham BevanThe student's manual of ancient geography → online text (page 7 of 82)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


the ocean, and the Rhone as having an outlet into the Atlantic.
Theopompus thought that the Danube discharged itself into the
Adriatic as well as into the Euxine ; and this is repeated by Dexippus
(about 280 B c.) with the monstrous assertion that there was a mountain
near the Danube whence both seas could be seen.

(5.) The Amber Jslee. — In no instance is the ignorance of the Greeks
more conspicuous than in regard to the amber trade. It is well known
that even before the days of Herodotus a considerable traffic in thitf^
highly-prized article was carried on from the Bridanus, which, accord-
ing to the report he had received, flowed into the Noi'thern Ocean.
The amber really came from the shores of the Baltic, and was conveyed
overland to the head of the Adriatic, which thus became the entrepdt
for the tn4e. Several of tiie Greek geographers (Dexippus may be



Digitized



by Google



44 THE WORLD AS KNOWN TO THE GEOGRAPHERS. Bk. I.

instanoed) oonaequentlj conceived this to be the locality where the
amber was found, and represented certain islands, which they named
Electrldee InsuleB, as existing at the head of the Adriatic. Even when
this error was exploded, the true seat of the trade remained un-
known. Timeus places the Amber Island (Haunonia) north of Scythia;
Strabo names it Basilia, but was equally mistaken as to its northeiii
latitude.

(6.) AdanUc—The Atlantic Ocean veas known only by dark ru-
mours : PUto believed it to be so slimy from the effects of a sunken
island, which he names Atlantis, that no vessel could navigate it.
Aristotle believed it to be just as shallow as the Mediterranean was
deep, and so liable to dead ^ms that sailing was out of the question.

(7.) Phctnieian fnihence. — In all these reports and in the ignorance
wldch the Greeks display, we can trace the influence of the Phoeni-
cians, who were bent on preserving a monopoly of the ocean-traffic,
and to this end propagated the most exaggerated rumours. Their
determination to keep navigation a secret is well illustrated by a story
related by Strabo, that when a Greek ship followed in the track of a
Carthaginian vessel, the captain of the latter deliberately ran his ship
upon a rock, in order to deter the Greeks from any further attempt at
discovery. Most of the rumours which they propagated appear to have
had some foundation; but the truth was distorted and the dangers
magnified. Thus the opinions both of Plato and Aristotle probably
have reference to the SargoMo sea in the neighbourhood of the
Asores. The Phoenicians themselves were undoubtedly acquainted with
the western shores of Europe as far as the BritlBh Isles; but, with the
exception of the expedition of Himilco, we hear little of their pro-
ceedings. In Europe, Marseilles was most distinguished for maritime
discovery, and produced several distinguished navigators, particularly
Pytheas and Euthymenes.

(8.) Northern Expeditions. — There is no contemporary history of Hi-
milco's expedition; we are indebted to Pliny and to Festus Avienus, a
poet of the 4th century a.d., for the information we possess in regturd
to it. Himilco is supposed to have lived about 500 B.C., and is reputed
to have been the discoverer of the British Isles. Avienus describes the
ScHly Tsles under the name (Estrymnides, the Ijand*8 End as (Estrymnis,
and Ireland as Sacra Insula, probably confounding the native " Eri"
with the Greek *Upa, Many particulars connected with the voyage are
evidently misplaced : thus the sea- weed which checked his progress must
have been, as already remarked, in the Sargasso sea in the neighbourhood
of the Azores, and not to the north of Britain.

The report of the British Isles must have been pretty widely spread,
as Aristotle mentions both Albion and leme, and a notice of the latter
occurs in one of the Orphic poems, the date of which, however, is
uncertain.

Pytheas of Massilia, bom about 334 b c , explored the northern and
western ocean, and published a 'Description of the World,' and a
treatise on the Ocean, of which but a few fragments remain. He
followed the coasts of Spain and Gaul to the shoi'es of Britain; ho
explored the eastern coast, and, advancing beyond its northern extre-
mity, reached Thule, where he found perpetual daylight. More to
the northward he was stopped by masses of sea-weed. He returned
through the German Ocean to the mouth of the Rhine, and then made
for the amber coast of the Baltic, where he met with the Teutones. A
river which he names the Tanais was the limit of his advance in this



Digitized



by Google



CHAP. IV. GEOGRAPHICAL WRITERS. 45

direction. Strabo (ii. p. 75^ blames him for placing Britain too far
to the north, he himself having committed a greater error in the other
direction. His estimate of the length of the British coast (20,000
stades) was probably intended to include the southern as well as the
eastern coast.

(9.; Africa. — Lastly, we have to notice the progress of discovery in
a southerly direction. Here again the Carthaginians were in advance
of other nations. About 500 B.C., as is probable, Hanno undertook a
voyage beyond the Pillars of Hercules for the purpose of establishing
colonies on the western coast of Africa. The account of his expedition
is contained in a Greek translation of a statement which he himself drew
up in the Pimic language.

The localities noticed are of doubtful position, but may probably be
identified thus : Prom. Soloeis with C. Spartd near Tangier ; the river
Lixus with the Alharytch; tha island of Cyme with Arguvn; the river
Chretes wth the 8t. John ; the river containing crocodiles with the
Senegal; the Western Promontory with C. Verd; the mountain Thedn
Oohema with Sierra Leone^ or with Sangareah in 10° N. lat. ; the Southern
Promontory with Sherbro Sound, and the island with Plantain Island, in
about H° N. lat. The Gorilko which he describes in the latter have
been with some probability explained as a species of ape still called
Toorilla. Euthymenes of Mfupseilles (about 300 b.c.) conducted a
similar expedition outside the Pillars of Hercules, and Eudoxus of
Cyzicus is said to have circumnavigated Africa from Gades to the Red
Sea. We have no detailed account of the eastern coast until the
Periplus of Arrian, compiled probably in the first century a.d., which'
gives a survey of the coast down to Rhapta, probably the modem
QuiUxif in 10° N. lat. In the interior no great discoveries were made:
the Ptolemies prosecuted an active trade with Abyssinia from their
ports Berenice, Arsinoe, and Philolfiiti.

§ 2. While a considerable portion of the earth's surface waa laid
open by these discoveries, there was a constant supply of geo-
graphical works, emanating from authors whose subjects and places
of abode show how widely diffused tlie taste had become. Most
of these works have been lost, but the titles alone are instractive,
as showing the amoimt of materials at the command of the later
geographers.

Geographical Worha.—* History of Sidly,* b^ Antiochus of Syra-
cuse (about 400 B.C.), Strabo 's chief authority m regard to the Greek
colonies in Italy and Sicily. A large historical work by Ephorus of
Cums (about 350), an authority both with Strabo and Diodorus
Siculus. 'History of Greece,' by Theopompus of Chios (about
350 B.C.), pndsed by Dionysius and Pliny for his knowledge of
Western Europe. 'Description of the World,' by Eudoxus of
Cnidus (about 330 B.C. , a mathematician and astronomer as well as a
practical geographer : he travelled extensively in Egypt, Asia, and
Sicily. A ' Periplus ' of Scylax, compiled in the reign of Philip of
Macedon, being a description of the coasts of the Mediterranean,
Propontis, Euxine, and Palus MaK>tis, commencing at the Pillars of
Hercules and terminating at the island of Cenie, off the coast of
Africa. * Periplus ' of Phileas, describing the same coasts. ' De-
scription of the World ' and other works, by Dicsearohus of Messana



Digitized



by Google



46 THE WORLD AS KNOWN TO THB GEOGRAPHERS. Bk. I.

(about 310 B.c.)> who waa specially devoted to drawing maps. A
'Book of Distances/ by Timosthenes, noticed by Strabo and Pliny,
giving the distances between different places about the Mediterranean
coasts and elsewhere. ' Treatise on Greece and Sicily/ by Timssus
of Tauromenium (b.c. 280), with much information regarding' the
north and west, imd particularly regarding Italy and Sicily; the
amber-producing island Basilia is noticed by him. ' Heracleia,' by
Herodonis of Heraclea in Pontus, a contemporary of Aristotle, yielding
information in regard to Spain in particular. ' Altitude of Moun-
tains,' by Xenophon of Ijamps&cus, who also refers to the Amber
Island imder the name Baltia. Lastly, the treatises of Heraclides of
Heraclea Pontica, containing various notices of interest.

§ 3. Eratosthenes (b.o. 276-196), a native of Cyrene and educated
at Athens, held the post of librarian at Alexandria, under Ptolemy
Euergetes, He brought mathematics and astronomy to bear on the
subject of geography, and was thus enabled to construct a very
much improved chart of the world, which exhibited parallels of
latitude and longitude, the tropics, and the arctic circles. His
equator divided the earth into two equal halves, and from it he
drew eight parallels of latitude through the following points —
Taprobane (Ceylon), Merofi, Syene, Alexandria, Rhodes, the Helles-
pont, the mouth of the Borysthenes, and Thule. That which
passed through Rhodes (named the dme^pay/ui) divided the habit-
able world into two halves, the northern including Europe, the
southern Asia and Libya. These lines were crossed at right angles
by seven parallels of longitude passing through the following points
—Pillars of Hercules, Carthage, Alexandria, Thapsacus, the Cas-
pian Gates, the mouth of the Indus, and that of the Ganges : the
third of these was his main parallel. The circumference of the
earth he estimated at 252,000 stades, or about 28,000 miles : the
habitable world he conceived to be like a Macedonian cMamys,
i, e, of an oblong shape, the proportions being 77,800 stades in
length and 38,000 in breadth, but drawing to a point at each end.
In his descriptive geography, he added considerably to the know-
ledge of the East, which Alexander's campaigns had then opened ;
in the West a few fresh names appear. The peculiar features in his
map are — the mistaken direction given to the British isles ; the un-
due easterly elongation of Africa below the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb ;
the connexion between the Caspian Sea and the Northern Ocean ; the
Oxus and Jaxartes flowing into that sea, and not into the Sea of Aral ;
the absence of the peninsula of Hindostan ; the Ister communi-
<»ting with the Adriatic sea through one of it« branches ; the omis-
sion of the Bay of Biscay ; the compression of the northern districts
of Europe and Asia ; and the total omission of the eastern half of
Asia and the southern half of Africa. He made numerous calcula-
tions of distances, the correctness of which varies considerably, from



Digitized



by Google




Digitized



by Google



48 THE WORLD AS KNOWN TO THE GEOGRAPHERS. Bk. I.

the circumstance of his having made his meridians of longitude
parallel to each other. His great work on geography is unfortunately
only known to us from the extracts preserved by Strabo and other
writers : it consisted of three books, the first of which contained a
review of the progress of geography ; the second treated of mathe-
matical, and the thir<i of descriptive geography.

Place$, &e., of vnterest in Eratodhenea' Geitgraphy.—\n Europe, he
notices the Siwuiish rivers Anaa and Tagus, the promontory of Calpe,
and the town of Tarrftco ; oflF the coast of Gaul, a group of islands, of
which Uxisama represents UeharU ; in Germany, Orkynia, or the Hercy-
nia*i wood. In Africa, he is the "first to notice the two tributaries of the
Nile, Ast&pus and Astabr>ra£ ; the Cinnamon coast, S. of the straits of
Bab-el-Mandeb ; the Nubians in the interior of Libya ; the town Lixus
in Mauretania; and the rock Abylax, the later Abyla, opposite Calpe.
Asia he describes as intei-sectod by a contmuous range of mountains,
consisting of Taurus, Paropamlsus, Emodi Montes, and Imaus, which
terminated in the promontory of Thinea on the coast of the Eastern
ocean. The southern portion of the continent is divided into four sec-,
tiona — India, Arlana, Persia, and Arabia. The river Granges, the islands
of the Persian Gulf, Tylus, Arftdus, Ac, the Arabian tribes Nabataei,
Scenitee, Agraei, and Sabaii, with the towns Petra, Mariaba, and Sab&ta,
are first noticed by Eratosthenes.

§ 4. Hipparchus of Nica^a in Bithynia (about B.C. 150) improved
on Eratosthenes' plan by calculating distances from the observations
of eclipses : he thus obtained a method of determining the true
position of any locality. In other respects be is famous for his
bitter criticisms of his great predecessor, and for his erroneous ideas
that Ceylon was the commencement of a great southern continent
(which he probably 8upi)0sed to be connected with Africa at its
southern extremity), and that the Danube flowed into the Adriatic
as well as into the Euxiue Sea.

§ 5. Polybius of Megalopolis in Arcadia (b.c. 205-123) must be
ranked as a ])ractical rather than a mathematical geographer, his
object, as he himself tells us (iii. 59), being to enlighten his con-
temporaries in regard to foreign lands, especially Rome and
Carthage. He differed from his predecessors in subdividing the
torrid zone by the equator, thus making six instead of five'zonos:
he believed in the southern connexion of Africa and Asia: he
calculated the extent of many of the lands of Europe, and the
distances between certain spots. He describes at some length
Iberia (Spain), Celtica (Gaul), Italy, and Sicily : but his descrip-
tions are very vague and imperfect. The greater part of his
historical work is lost to us : of the forty books in which it was
written, only the first five and fragments of the others remain.

§ 6. Between the times of Polybius and Strabo many important
works on geography were composed, which have wholly di8ap|)enred.
riie fragments of some few remain, among which we may notice



Digitized



by Google



Chap. IV. STRABO. 49

the description of the world by Apollodonis of Athens (b.c. 140) ;
of the Ked Sea by Agatharchldea (b.c. 120); the Geography of
Ajtemidorus of Ephesus (b.c. 100) ; the description of Europe in
iambic verse by Scymnus of Chios (b.c. 100); and the Periplusof
the Mediterranean by Menippus (contemporary with Augustus).

The following are authors of less importance. Polemon of Glyoea
in Troas (about 200 B.C.), the author of a 'Googi-aphy of the World/
and various topographical works. Mnaseas of Patara in Lycia (about
150 B.C.), the author of a 'Periplus.' Demetrius of Scepsis (about
140 B.C.), the author of a treatise on the nations engaged in the Trojan
war. Nicander of Colophon (150 b.c.) and Alexander of Epheeus,
authors of poetical works on geographical subjects. Cornelius Poly-
histor, the author of a ' Periplus ' in forty b5oks, descriptive of various
countries. ApoUodorus of Artemita (about 100 B.C.), the author of
works on Parthia and the Bactrian kingdom.

§ 7. Strabo, of Amasia in Pontus (b.c. 66 — a.d. 24), gave the
world the first systematic description of the world, in a work
composed in seventeen books. He had travelled extensively, " from
Armenia to Tyrrhenia (Western Italy), and from the Euxine to the
borders of Ethiopia" (ii. p. 117), and he had studied deeply the
writings of earlier geographers. His work was intended, not as a
philosophical treatise, but as a manual of useful information for the
educat^ classes ; hence he unfortunately omits much that would
have added to the intrinsic value of his work, as the exact division
of the earth into climates, and the statement of the latitude and
longitude of places ; he is also deficient in his notices of the
physical character and the natural phaenomena of the countries
which he describes; and he does not show the spirit of ti*ue
criticism in his undue estimation of Homer and his depreciation of
Herodotus. He agrees generally with the views of Eratosthenes :
he holds the earth to be spherical, concentric with the outer
sphere of the heaven, but immovable. He recognizes five zoncir,
of which the northern was uninhabitable from extreme cold, and
the southern from extreme heat : he divides the earth into two
hemispheres at the equator ; and the habitable world also into two
instead of three ix)rtions. The map of- the world, as Strabo de-
scribes it, is defective in many respects : the Bay of Biscay is
altogether omitted, and the coast slopes off regularly from Spain
towards the N.E., bringing Britain close to the latter country ; the
Caspian Sea is connected with the Northern Ocean by a chann^ ;
tiie Ganges flows eastward to Cliina ; the peninsula of Hindostan is
absent ; and the coast strikes northward from the eastern extremity
of India, to the omission of the Malay peninsula : the southern
elongation of the continent of Africa is still unknown.

PoiidonhUt Geminm, Marinug. — Posidonius of Apamea in Syria
(bx. 135-51), divided the world into seven zones ; he combated the
AKO. GEOO. D



Digitized



by Google




i
i-



Digitized



by Google



CUAP. IV. DISCO\^RIES OF THE ROMANS. 61

view of Polybius, that the heat was greatest at the equator, on the
ground that the level of the land was low in that part ; and he com-
pared the shape of the habitable world to a sling, as being broad in the
centre and gradually contracting towards either extremity.

Geminus the Rhodian (about 70 B.c.), a mathematicsJ geographer, is
chiefly known for his recognition of the antipodes, in whose existence
he believed, although he knew nothing of them; he contrasts them
with the aatmci, by whom he means the occupants of the same zone but
in the southern hemisphere, and the tynceci and periceci in the same
zone and the same hemisphere, the former contiguous to, the latter
distant from any given people.

Maiiuus of Tyre ^a.d. 150), the true predecessor of Ptolemy, has the
merit of having rectified in a great measure the errors, which appeared
on the maps of Eratosthenes and others, by the multiplication of
parallels of latitude and longitude. He had a much timer conception
of the forms of the continents, extending Asia eastwards, Africa south-
wards, and describing the northern coast of Europe with tolerable
correctness.

§ 8. As we are now entering on the last stage of ancient geo-
graphy, we must turn aside to consider to what extent Ptolemy and
the world at large were indebted to the Romans for contributions to
the general stock of information on this subject. It will be found
that they did but little for geography as a science ; but that they
nevertheless advanced practical geography by the extent of their con-
quests, and by the manner in which the vast dominions imder their
charge were systematized and consolidated. The portions of the
world which were more thoroughly explored by them were Spain,
Gaul, Britain, Germany, Dacia, lllyria, and the northern part of
Africa. The description of the time when and the manner in which
these countries were laid open, involves a brief review of the
external history of Rome.

Progress of Geography among the Romans. — The progress of geo-
graphy among the Romans is coincident with the progress of the
Roman Empire.

(I.) Italy. — Their knowledge even of the peninsula of Italy was
extremely limited down to a comparatively late period. The proposal
of Fabius to cross the Cimininn hills in Etruria, in the year 309 B.C.,
was regarded by the Roman Senate as an act of unwarrantable fool-
hardiness. At a somewhat later period, 282 B.C., Roman ships first
ventured into the Bay of Tarentum. Qraduallv, however, they esta-
blished their bway over the whole of the peninsula by 265 B.a

(2.) lUyrt'a : Gallia Cisalpina, — The eastern coasts of the Adriatic
were explored in the Illyrian war, 230 B.C., the object of which was to
extirpate the hordes of pirates who had, until that time, swept the
coasts of Italy and Greece. This was followed by the Gallic war,
which led the Romans across the Po, 224 B.C., and opened Northern
Italy to the foot of the Alps : it was not, however, until the subse-
quent reconquest of the Gallic tribes, b.c. 191, and the subjection of
the Ligurians, who occupied the Maritime Alps and the Upper Apen-
nines from the mouth of the Rhone to the borders of Etruria, in the
year 180 B.C., that the pacification of Northern Italy was complete.

D 2



Digitized



by Google



52 THE WORLD AS KNOWN TO THE GEOGRAPHERS. Bk. I.

(3.) Spain. — The Punic wars resulted in the subjugation of the
peninsula of Spain, not, however, without a long and severe contest : '
during the second Punic war. the Roman territory extended along the
eaatem coast over the modem provinces of Catalonia, Valencia^ Murcia,
and Andalucia. The Celtiberiana were pacified by Tib. Sempro-
nius Gracchus, b.c. 179, and thus the interior dhstricts of Cakile
and Aragon were added. The Lusitanians of Western Spain and
Portugal were subdued, B.C. 158, by Dec. Junius Brutus, who was
reput^ the first man who had seen the sun sink beneath the Atlantic
Ocean. Finally, the Numantine war, 143-134 B.C., established the
Roman supremacy in Central Spain, and no part of the country re-
mained unexplored except the northern coast of the Cantabri and
Asturee, w^ho were not subdued until B.C. 25.

(4.) Greece. — It is unnecessary to follow in detail the progress of the
Roman empire in the East, as no great advance in geograp>hical dis-
covery resulted from it. It will suffice to say that Macedonia became
a Roman province in the year 167 B.C. — that Ulyria was completely
subdued the same year — and that Greece was reduced to a province by
the fall of Corinth in the year 146. The arms of Rome had penetrated
across the Hellespont, and had decided the fate of Asia Minor in the
war with Antiochus, B.C. 192-190.

(5.) Gallia Transalpma : (he Getm^ Cimbrians, and Teutons. — It was,
however, in the west and north that new countries were opened to
the world. Southern Gaul was invaded B.C. 125 : the Salluvii saw the
first Roman colony planted on their soil at Aquae Sextise {Aix)t b.c.
122 : the Allobroges and the Arvemi were defeated in the following
year, and their territory constituted a Roman province three years
later ; Narbo {Narbonne) was founded to secure the coast-route to
Spain. The same period witnessed the first movements of the
northern hordes, who ultimately overran the whole of the south.
The Getae had crossed the Danube from Dacia into the districts adja-
cent to Macedonia; the Roman generals drove them back, and Curio
advanced as far as the Danube, but feared to cross the river. The Cim-
brians and Teutons penetrated into Gaul and Italy, but were annihi-
lated by Marius, B.c. 102-1.

(6.) Africa. — The interior of Africa first became opened through the
wars with Jugurtha, Rome having already acquired and organized into a
province the coast-district which had previously belonged to Carthage :
ner armies now penetrated into Numidia, B.C. 109, and south wwds
into Gsetulia in the following year. The history of Sallust contains
many geographical notices connected with these campaigns.

(7.) Armenia and the East. — The scene of the Mithridatic wars was
chiefly laid in Asia Minor: LucuUus, however, penetrated into the
interior of Armenia and took Tigranoeerta, b.c. 69 ; and his suc-
cessor, Pompey, three years later, bc. 66, advanced as far as the valleys
of the Phasis and Cyrus and the southern slopes of Caucasus. After
the settlement of Pontus as a Roman pro\nnce, Pompey subdued Syria
and Palestine, b.c. 64. ^t this period Egypt alone, of all the lands
bordering on tlie Mediterranean, remained unsubdued.

(8.) Gaul and Britain. — The Gallic wars of Caesar first made the
Romans acquainted with the countries of Northern Europe, and his
own simple narrative furnishes us with almost the whole of the infor-
mation which we possess relating to Gaul itself. In his first campaign,
B.C. 58, aft«r de&ating the Hdvetii, he passed northwards through
Yesontio, Besonfon, to attack Ariovistus : the battle took place som^



Digitized



by Google



Chap. IV. DISCOVEKIES OF THE ROMANS. 53

where N. of B&le. The following year, B.a 57, he subdued the Belgse,
defeatiog the Nervii on the banks of the Sabis, Sambre^ and taking the
stronghold of the Aduatici in South Brabant; he also received the



Online LibrarySir William Smith William Latham BevanThe student's manual of ancient geography → online text (page 7 of 82)