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The student's manual of ancient geography online

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homage of the various tribes bordering on the Ocean, t. e. in Brittany,
and cleared the valley of the Rhone, in Switzerland, of the chieftains
who levied ''black mail" on the merchants crossing by the Great St,
Bernard. In the following campaign (d.c. 56) he defeated the VenSti,
of Southern Brittany, who had revolted, subdued the Unelli in
Cotantin, and the greater part of the Aquitanian tribes between the
Loire and Garonne by his general Crassus, and the Morini and Menapii,
the former of whom occupied the coast of the British channel from
Qesori&cum, Boulogne, to ComcI, In the next yeir (b.c. 55) Csesar
advanced against the German tribes, Usipdtes and TencthSri, who had
crossed the Rhine, and defeated them near Coblentz ("ad confluentem
Moss (Mo8eUe) etRheni," BeU. Gall. iv. 16); crossed the Rhine between
Ccblentz and Andemach, and after, staying eighteen days in Germany
returned into Gaul, and made his first expedition to Britain. In BC. 54
Csesar first visited the Treviri on the banks of the Moadls, and then under-
took his second expedition against Britain, in which he advanced west-
ward as far as Berkshiref and northward into Hertfordshire, In B.c. 53
he crossed the Rhine a second time, and received the submission of the
Ubii, and wasted the territory of the Eburftnes in Limhourg. In the
winter of 53-52 the Camutes, Arvemi, and other tribes revolted : by
a series of decisive movements he took Yellaunodunum, Gkn&bum
{Orlean$)f NoWodunum, and AvarTcum (Bourgee) ; he was himself sub-
sequently defSeated at Gergovia, but was again victorious, and succeeded
in quelling sedition. In B.c. 51 the pacification of the Gallic tribes was
completed by the renewed subjugation of the Camutes, and the defeat
of the Bellov&ci who lived on the banks of the Mame, This brief
review of Csssar's campaigns will serve to show how wide an extent of
country was now for the first time laid open to the civilization of

(9.) Asia, — In the East no great progress was made : the campaigns
of Crassus, 53 6 c, and of Antony, 38 B.C., were conducted in countries
already well known. The ignorance that prevailed as to the country
far east is shown by the hope which Crassus expressed, that after the
defeat of the Bactrians and Indians he should stand on the edge of the
Ocean. At a somewhat later period, 24 b.c., Augustus sent out an
expedition under ^lius Gallus to explore Arabia and Ethiopia ; the
expedition failed through the treachery of the native guides, and at no
time got far from the coast of the Red Sea.

(10.) Mcefia, Ac: Germany. — In the iiorth progress was still being
made : the important district of Pannonia was first entered by Octavi-
anus, B.C. 35, and its subjugation completed by Tiberius, a.d. 8, and
thus the boundaries of the empire were carried to the Danube and
the Save. Moeeia was permanently subdued by Licinius Crassus,
B.C. 29. Thrace was ravaged b.c. 14, and gradually reduced to peace-
able subjection, though not made a province untU the reign of Ves-
pasian. Rhsetia, Vindelicia, and Noricum, gelded to the arms of
Druaus and Tiberius, B.c. 15. The German tnbes, from the mouth of
the Rhine to the Elbe, were invaded by Drusus, B.C. 1*2-9, and the
Roman supremacy was for a time established by Tiberius as far as the
Visurgis {Weser) eastward; the Romans were thenceforward con-
stantly engaged in wars with the German tribes, and acquired con-
sideraole information respecting them. Britain became better known


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subsequently to the expedition of Aulus Plautius, a.d. 43, and more
particularly by the conquests of Agricola (a.d.78-84), whose fleet sailed
round the island. The coast of Denmark was explored as far as the
northern extremity of Jutland by an expedition sent out under the
auspices of Augustus, and the, coasts of the Baltic iff ere visited by
Nero's orders for the purpose of getting amber. Finally, the lower
course of the Danube was more thoroughly made known by the
expeditions of Trajan into Dacia, a.d. 101-106: he connected the two
banks of the river by a bridge at S^)enn. The empire of Rome at its
greatest extent stretched eastward to the Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf;
northward to Britain, the Rhine, the Danube as far as its junction with
theTibiscus {Theisa), and thence along the northern boundary of Dacia
to the Tyras {Dniestr) ; southward to the interior deserts of A&ioa and
Arabia ; and westward to the Atlantic Ocean.

§ 9. AVhile the Romans thus contributed most materially to the
advance of geographical knowledge by their military successes, they
did but little to forward the subject in a literary or scientific point
of view. Many of their historians, indeed, abound in incidental
notices of countries and places, in which the events they record
occurred. We have alrelEidy noticed Cwsar's work, *De Bello
Gallico,' as an authority for the geography of ancient Gaul ; Sallust
(B.C. 85-35) iu his * Jugurthine War' (cap. 17-19), gives a brief
sketch of the state of Africa at the time of his narrative ; Tacitus
(a.d. 60 to about 120) describes briefly the geography of Germany
in the early chapters of his * Germania,' and gives scattered notices
relating to that country in his other works ; he has frequent notices
of localities in Britain in his * Life of Agricola.* Livy (58 b.c-
19 A.D.) in his great historical work had no occasion to introduce
his readers to new scenes: his deficiencies, as a geographer, are
remarkable in describing countries which he ought to have known
familiarly ; his account of Hannibal's march into Etruria, of the
passage of the Alps, of the engagement on the Trasimene Lake, and
of the Caudine Forks, are instances of this.

§ 10. The only Latin writers on geography, whose works have
survived to our day, are Pomponius Mela and the elder Pliny.
The former, who flourished about 40 a.d., compiled a useful
manual, entitled * De Situ Orbis,' in three books. The most re-
markable feature in his system is, that he believed in the existence
of a vast southern continent, the inhabitants of which he names
* Antichthons ;' he supposed Ceylon to be the commencement of
it. In his description of the world, he takes the sea as his guide,
and surveys the ooast-lands of Africa, Europe, and Asia, in order.
His information in regard to Britain was more full than that of any
previous writer : but in his account of the extreme northern, eastern,
and southern parts of the world he revives the long-exploded fables
of sphinxes and other imaginary monsters. Pliny (a.d. 23-79) iu
his * Historia Naturalis,' has devoted four out of the thirty-seven


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books, of which that great work consisted, to a sketch of the known
world. His work is a compilation of incongruous materials gathered
from writers of dififerent ages. As a systematic treatise, therefore,
it is comparatively worthless ; but the mere record of ancient names,
and the incidental notices with which his work abounds, render it
valuable to the critical reader.

Arrian^ Pautanias. — These writers, though using the Greek language,
may feirly be reckoned as belonging to the age of Latin h'terature.
Arrian, who, as a Roman citizen, bore the prsenomen of Flavius, was
bom at Nicomedia towards the end of the 1st cent. A.D., and held high
office under the emperors Hadrian and Antoninus Pius. We hare already ^
refen*ed to his 'History of the Expedition of Alexander:' in addition
to this he was the author of a work on Ihdia, and of a *Periplus
of the Euxine Sea,' which was undertaken at the command of Hadrian,
and in which he describes the coast from Trapezus to Byzantium.
Pausanias, a Lydian by birth, and a contemporary of Arrian, settled
at Rome after a long course of travel, and there compiled a ' Descrip-
tion of Greece,' in 10 books, a work of the highest value for the topo-
graphy, buildings, and works of art of that countxy, and containing
occasional notices of other lands which he had visited.

§ 11. Claudius Ptolemy completed the science of geography in a
work which served as the text-book on the subject not only in his
own age, but down to the 15th century, when the progress of
maritime discovery led to its disuse. Of 'the life of this great
man we know positively nothing beyond the fact that he flourished
at Alexandria about a.d. 150. His work, entitled r€<aypa<f>iKi)
*Y(firfyTjtn£, and drawn up in eight books, is filled with accurate
statements as to the position of places, but is scanty in descrip-
tive materials. In his map of the world the following features
are noticeable : he extends the world south\vards to IQ^\° S. lat.,
and northwards to Thule somewhere N. of the British Isles : the
eastern limit he unduly extends to a point beyond China, and the
western he places at the Insulae Fortunat^se (Canaries), He re-
presents the parallels of latitude in a curved form, as though drawn
from the pole as a centre, and the meridians of longitude as con-
verging towards the poles from the equator. He extends the mass
of land too much in an easterly direction. The Baltic appears as
part of the Northern Ocean ; the Palus Masotis is unduly elongated
towards the north : the Caspian is restored to its true character as
an inland sea, but its position is reversed, its greatest length being
given as from E. to W. : the peninsula of Hindostan is but faintly
represented, while Ceylon is magnified to four times its real size ;
the Malay peninsula appears on his map, but, instead of carrying
the line of coast northwards from that point, he bi-ings it round the

• Cap. III. §12.


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Map of the World,

Sinus MagnuB (Oul/o/Siam) in a southerly direction, and connects
it with the southern extremity of Africa, thus enclosing the Indian
Ocean ; the form which he assigns to the western coast of Africa is
also very erroneous, the westerly curve being omitted, and the line
of coast brought straight down from the Straits of Oihraltar ; the
eastern coast is correct until it reaches the point where he supposed
it to trend eastward to meet Asia. With regard to the new places
noticed, the most interesting are the river Nigir, and the Mountains
of the Moon in the interior of Africa, and a group of 1378 Islands
near Ceylon, evidently the Lacdiva and Mdldiva groups.

AgaUieTnerus, J)iony$iu8 Periegetes, Siephantu of Byzantium.— Ot the
writers who followed Ptolemy, we may notice Agathemgrus, the author


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Chap. VI, ROMAN WfilTERS. 57

according to Ptolemy

of an epitome of Ptolemy'* work, id which, however, he renews the
error with regard to the Caspian Sea, and describes Britain as reaching
from the middle of Spain to the middle of Germany, and Scandia (the
Scandinavian peninsula) as an island opposite the Cimbiic Chersonese :
Ceylon is designated by a name, Salike, which seems to be the proto-
type of its modem title. Dionysius Periegetes (about a d. 300) was the
author of a poetic^ manual of geography, in which he follows Erato-
sthenes and other writers of an earlier age. Bsstly, Steph&nus Byzan-
tfnus (about the commencement of the sixth century) compiled a
Geographical Dictionary entitled 'Ethnica,' with articles on countries,
peoples, and towns, natural objects being omitted : the work was
epitomized by Hennolaus in Justinian's reign : of the original but a
few fragments remain, but the quotations from it are numerous.

5 12. Among the works which contributed materially to the

D 3


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stock of knowledge with regard to special localities, the Peripli and
the Itineraries deserve particular notice. I. The former consisted
of descriptions of sea-coasts, with the distances of the places from
each other : in addition to those which we have already noticed in the
preceding chapters, we possess portions of six,* describing the follow-
ing seas :— (1.) The Mediterranean ; parts relating to the African and
Asiatic coasts alone survive. (2.) The Indian Ocean ; the south coasts
of Arabia, Persia, and India being described. (3.) ITie Euxine ; for
the most part a mere repetition of the Periplus of Arrian. (4.) The
Euxine and the Palus Masotis, which is valuable as containing mate-
rials borrowed from Scymnus. (5.) The Euxine. (6.) The Ocean,
by Marcian, composed about the commencement of the 5th century,
describing the southern coast of Asia, and the western and northern
coasts of Europe. II. The Itineraries were of two classes, scripta
and picta. The former were exactly what our old road-books were,
giving directions as to the routes, the distances, the more important
places, and the resting-places. Of this class we have the two so-called
Itineraries of Antonine* giving the routes throughout almost every
province of the Roman empire, the distances from place to place
being given in Roman miles ; and the Itinerary of Jerusalem or
Bourdeaux, compiled by a Christian in the 4th century, describing
the route between these two places, as well as between Heraclea and
Milan, with historical notices, and references to all localities con-
nected with sacred events. Of the Itineraria Picta, or illustrated
guide books, only one specimen, or rather copy, has come down to
us, the Tabula PetUingeriana, so named after its early possessor
Conrad Peutinger. The original was probably drawn up about
A.D. 230; the present copy dates from the 13th century. The
whole of the Roman empire, with the exception of the western
districts, which have been accidentally lost, is depicted in this
itinerary, the roads alone being given, with the names of the pro-
vinces and places, the distances, the junction of bye-roads, and the
various objects — woods, towns, castles, &c. — by which they pass.

) Tho dates at which the first fire of these Peripli were compiled are quite
uncertain : thej belong probably to the period of the Roman emperors.

3 This work was undoubtedly official ; but there has been much controrersy
respecting its date. It was probably published in the reign of Caracalla, who also
bore the name of Antoninus ; but it received alterations after his time down to the
reign of Diocletian, subsequently to which we hare no eridence of any alterations,
for the passages in which *the name ''Constantinopolis'* ocoun are probably


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Temple of the Winds.


I. Mathematical.— § 1. Formation of the Earth. § 2. Its position
in the universe. § 3. Its shape. § 4. Its size. § 5. Tropics,
zones, &c. § 6. Parallels of latitude ; meridians of longitade.
§ 7. Climates. § 8. Maps; globes. § 9. Measures of distance.
11. Physical. — § 10. Divisions; land, sea, air: terms relating to
land. § 11. Mountains. § 12. Springs. § 13. Rivers. §14.
Lakes. § 15. Seas. § 16. Winds. § 17. Temperature. § 18.
Changes produced by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and alluvial

I. Mathematical Geography.

§ 1 . Formation of the Earth. — The Greeks did not hold the same opi-
nion iis ourselves on the subject of the formation of the universe. We,
on the authority of Scripture, believe that the Almighty *' created the
heavens and the earth," t. e., not only shaped nature into the forms
which it assumes, but brought matter itself into existence. Thejr, on
the other hand, held that the univerae was constructed out of pre«


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existent matter, though they were not agreed as to what the nature
of this matter was. Tbales considered water to haye been the original
element ; AnaximSnes and Archelaus air, Heraditus fire, Xenopl^es
earth, Anaximander something infinite (t^ Jkirtipov), meaning pro-
bably a mixture of simple unchangeable elements : the opinions, how-
ever, which obtained most wide and permanent sway were, either
that the original matter consisted of a mixture of the four elements
(earth, air, fire, water), which was the creed of £mped5cles, Plato,
and Aristotle ; or that it was composed of "atoms," t. e. small indi-
yisible particles, combined together in various ways, which was the
creed of Leucippua, Democrltus, and Epicurus. Equally various were
the theories as to how this matter came to assume its present form :
the most distinctive views on this subject were, on the one side, that
matter was shaped by the infusion rato it of an intelligent principle
(kovj) ; on the other hand, that it was the result eiUier of neces-
sity or chance. Lastly, there were various theories as to whether the
world would be destroyed, and by what means: while the Eleatic
school, who held all existing things to be eternal, and the later Stoics,
who held the world to be a development of the Deity, came to the
conclusion that it would never be destroyed, the majority of the
philosophers whom we have above noticed adopted the opposite view,
and supposed that it would be destroyed either by fire, or water, or by
their joint action, or again by a resolution of the forms of matter into
the original atoms.

§ 2. Position. — ^The position of the earth in reference to the uni-
verse was another subject on which the Greek philosophers held eiTO-
neous views. They did not suppose the earth to be a planet, but a
fixed central body, aroimd which the celestial bodies revolved. The
heaven, in which these bodies were fixed, was of a definite form and
circumscribed within definite limits ; it was generally supposed to be
a large sphere, concentric with the earth, and hence was sometimes
compared to the shell of an egg, the earth representing the yolk
enclosed in it. Whether there were *' more worlds than one" was i^
question discussed in ancient as in modem days, although in a dif-
ferent sense : the question being, whether, beyond the system of which
the world was supposed to be the centre, other systems might not
exist in the boundless realms of space. It was never supposed that
the stars themselves were the centres of such independent systems.

§ 3. Form. — The form of the eai*th was originally held to be a disk,
t. e. a flat round surface, some difference of opinion existing as to the
precLBe degree of roundness, whether it was circujar or oval. Thales
supposed this body to float, as a cork, on water; Anaximander held
that the earth was of a cylindrical form, suspended in mid air, and sur-
rounded by water, air, and fire, as an onion is by its coats ; AnaximSnes
supposed it to be supported by the compressed air at its lower sur-
(ace ;' and Xenophanes supposed it to be firmly rooted in infinite space.
The true view of the spherical form of the earth originated with the
Pythagoreans, and obtained general belief: its exact form (an oblate
spheroid) was not known, although the revolution of the earth on its
axis, wmch leads to the compression of the surface at the poles,
appears to haye been surmised by Aristarchus, B.C. 280. It was sup-
posed that this spherical body was suspended in space, and kept in
its proper position either -by its own equilibrium, or by the pressure
of the air on every side. While the idea that the earth moved round
the sun was confined to a few astronomers of a comparatively late


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date, it was, nevertheleBs, aupposed that the earth revoWed on one
and the same axis with the universe about it.

§ 4. Site. — The size of the earth was variously estimated: Hero-
dotus, who had no notion of its spherical form, probably thought its
length to be from 37,000 to 4u,0P0 stades. When the spherical
theory was received, the size of the earth was unduly magnified ;
Aristotle estimated it at 400,000 stades (about 46,200 milesj, and
Archimedes at 300,000 (about 34,700 miles), its real circumference
being about 25,000 miles. Eratosthtees calculated it by an ingenious
method^ at 250,000 stades, or about 28,800 miles; it was afterwards
diminished by Poeidonius to 240,000, 'and again to 180,000 stades.
The latter of these estimates was adopted by Marinus and Ptolemy,
and partly by Agathemerus, though the statements of this writer are
not consistent. The diameter of the earth was estimated at one-third
of the oiroiunference.

§ 5. IVoptc9, Zones, (i^c.— The mathematical divisions of the earth's
surface were founded on astronomical observation, and were the coun-
terpart of the divisions previously established in the celestial charts.
The most important of these lines were the ''equator" {laiifitpu^s,
xquator), which was originally divided by Eudoxus into 60 degrees,
and afterwards subdivided into 360 ; the summer and winter " tropics '*
{0€ptyhs, x'tM^fx^^^ Tp(nriK6s); and the ''arctic*' and "antarctic"
circles (ipKTiKds, h^raoKtiK^t kvkKos), The tropics were placed 24
degrees N. and S. of the equator, and the arctic and antarctic circles
36 degrees from the poles, leaving thus an interval of 30 degrees
between these and the tropics. In modem geography the tropical
circles are placed at 23^ degrees from the equator, and the polar circles
at a similar distance from the poles. These lines formed the basis of
. the division into "zones" {iS»vou, zontB, piagte), of which five were
generally enumerated,* viz. the "torrid" {iicuc€Kavfi4yri, torrida),
two " teinperate " (tdKparot, temperaUs), and two " frigid," (jrort-
^vyfJyui, friqidai). Sometimes the torrid zone was subdivided into
two or even three parts.

§ 6. Latitude and Longitude. — Parallels of latitude and meridians of
longitude were drawn in the first instance not at equal intervals, but
through certain well known points. Ptolemy was the first to adopt
equal intervals, and further improved the system by drawing the meri-
dians not in parallel but converging lines, and by adding parallels of
latitude south of the equator. To him we owe the introduction of
detenus "latitude" (tAcItoj) and "longitude" (jirJKos), to describe
the position of any given place in relation to the breadth and UngUi of
the world respectively.

§ 7. Climate8.^The term "climates" (nAf/iara) has a totally dif-

1 He ascertained by astronomical observation that the arc between Alexandria
and Syene was 1-ftOth part of the earth*B circumference : he then measured the
distance between these two places, and found it to be 5000 stades ; whence the total
circumference would be 360,000. The mode of calculation wm correct, but his
observations were not sufficiently nice to ensure an accurate result.

1 '* Quinqne tenent coelum tanm : quarum una corusco
Semper Sole rubens, et torrida semper ab igni ;
Qoam ciroum extremsB dextra Invaque trahuntur
OoDrulea glacie concretie atque imbribus atris :
Has inter mediamque, du» mortalibus asgris
Mnnere coneessie Divfim.** — Virg. Georg. i. 388-2S8.


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ferent sense in ancient and modem geography. In the former it
signified parallel belts on the earth's eui^Bftce, representing equal lengths
of day; in other words, an equal distance from the equator. The
necessi^ of such a division is entirely superseded by the subdivision
of the earth's surface into regularly marked parallels of latitude, for
each degree represents in reality a "climate" or equal length of day
to all places through which it passes.

§ 8. Maps. — The invention of maps for geographical purposes is
attributed to Anaximander, but it is not improbable that maps of
separate countries were used before he drew one of the whole world.
The art of drawing a map is 'described by the term ytofypcupla in its
special sense ; the map itself being called irfva|, or more fully irlpo^
ytwyp€upiK6s, and occasionally ireplo^os rris yris, Herodotus refera to
Hecataeus's map (iv. 36), and also describes Aristagoras as producing
a bronze tablet on which all the seas and rivers of the earth were de-
picted (v. 49). The maps of the Greek geographers, Eratosthenes, Strabo,
and Ptolemy, have been reproduced from the descriptions which they
have left, and are given in the preceding chapters : Ptolemy adopted
a more scientific style of projection than his predecessors. The inven-
tion of globes is attributed to Orates of Mallus in the second centm-y
B.C. The Romans used maps both for political and educational pur-
poses. Among the important measures which Julius Caesar originated
may be noticed the survey of the whole Roman empire, with maps of
the several provinces, which was ultimately carried out by Augustus.

Online LibrarySir William Smith William Latham BevanThe student's manual of ancient geography → online text (page 8 of 82)