Strabo in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898)

(Στράβων). A celebrated geographer, a native of Amasia in Pontus. The date of his birth is unknown, but may perhaps be placed about B.C. 63. He lived during the whole of the reign of Augustus, and during the early part, at least, of the reign of Tiberius. He is supposed to have died after A.D. 21. He received a careful education. He studied grammar under Aristodemus at Nysa in Caria, and philosophy under Xenarchus of Seleucia in Cilicia and Boethus of Sidon. He lived some years at Rome, and also travelled much in various countries. We learn from his own work that he was with his friend Ælius Gallus in Egypt in B.C. 24. He wrote an historical work (Ἱστορικὰ Ὑπομνήματα) in forty-three books, which is lost. It began where the history of Polybius ended, and was probably continued to the battle of Actium. He also wrote the work on Geography (Γεωγραφικά), in seventeen books, which has come down to us entire, with the exception of the seventh, of which we have only a meagre epitome. Strabo's work, according to his own expression, was not intended for the use of all persons. It was designed for all who had had a good education, and particularly for those who were engaged in the higher departments of administration. Consistently with this view, his plan does not comprehend minute description, except when the place or the object is of great interest or importance; nor is his description limited to the physical characteristics of each country; it comprehends the important political events of which each country has been the theatre, a notice of the chief cities and the great men who made them illustrious; in short, whatever was most characteristic and interesting in every country. His work forms a striking contrast with the geography of Ptolemy, and the dry list of names, occasionally relieved by something added to them, in the geographical portion of the Historia Naturalis of Pliny. It is, in short, a book intended for reading, and it may be read; a kind of historical geography. Strabo's language is generally clear, except in very technical passages and in those where the text has been corrupted; it is appropriate to the matter, simple, and without affectation. The first two books of Strabo are an introduction to his Geography, and contain his views on the form and magnitude of the earth, and other subjects connected with mathematical geography. In the third book he begins his description: he devotes eight books to Europe, six to Asia, and the seventeenth and last to Egypt and Libya. The editio princeps appeared at Venice in 1516. The best editions of Strabo are by Casaubon (Geneva, 1587), reprinted by Falconer (Oxford, 1807); by Koray (Paris, 1815); by Kramer, 3 vols. (Berlin, 1844-52); by Müller and Dübner (1853-56); and by Meineke (1866-77). There is a fine translation into French in 5 vols. made by command of Napoleon I. (Paris, 1805-19), with valuable notes. An English version is that of Hamilton and Falconer, 3 vols. (1854-57). Tozer's English edition of selections from Strabo (Oxford, 1893) has an excellent introduction. See also Bunbury's History of Ancient Geography, ii. pp. 209 foll., and Dubois, Examen de la Géographie de Strabo (Paris, 1891).

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