STRABO (/ˈstreɪboʊ/ ; Greek : Στράβων _Strabōn_; 64 or 63
BC – c. 24 AD) was a Greek geographer , philosopher , and
historian who lived in
Asia Minor during the transitional period of
Roman Republic into the
Roman Empire .
* 1 Life
* 2 Education
* 3 _Geographica_
* 4 Geology
* 5 Editions
* 6 Notes
* 7 References
* 8 Sources
* 9 External links
_ Title page from
Isaac Casaubon 's 1620 edition of
Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus (modern
Turkey ), a city that he said was situated the approximate
equivalent of 75 km from the
Black Sea . Pontus had recently fallen to
Roman Republic , and although politically he was a proponent of
Roman imperialism ,
Strabo belonged on his mother's side to a
prominent family whose members had held important positions under the
resisting regime of King
Mithridates VI of Pontus .
depicted in the
Strabo's life was characterized by extensive travels. He journeyed to
Egypt and Kush , as far west as coastal
Tuscany and as far south as
Ethiopia in addition to his travels in
Asia Minor and the time he
Rome . Travel throughout the Mediterranean and Near East,
especially for scholarly purposes, was popular during this era and was
facilitated by the relative peace enjoyed throughout the reign of
Augustus (27 BC – AD 14). He moved to
Rome in 44 BC, and stayed
there, studying and writing, until at least 31 BC. In 29 BC, on his
Augustus was at the time), he visited the island
Gyaros in the Aegean Sea. Around 25 BC, he sailed up the
Philae , after which point there is little record of his
proceedings until AD 17. Statue of
Strabo in his hometown
Amasya , Turkey), beside the Iris (Yeşilırmak) River
It is not known precisely when Strabo's _Geography_ was written,
though comments within the work itself place the finished version
within the reign of Emperor
Tiberius . Some place its first drafts
around 7 BC, others around 17 or 18 AD. The latest passage to which
a date can be assigned is his reference to the death in AD 23 of Juba
II , king of Maurousia (
Mauretania ), who is said to have died "just
recently". He probably worked on the _Geography_ for many years and
revised it steadily, not always consistently.
On the presumption that "recently" means within a year, Strabo
stopped writing that year or the next (24 AD), when he died.
The first of Strabo's major works, _Historical Sketches_ (_Historica
hypomnemata_), written while he was in
Rome (c. 20 BC), is nearly
completely lost. Meant to cover the history of the known world from
the conquest of Greece by the Romans,
Strabo quotes it himself and
other classical authors mention that it existed, although the only
surviving document is a fragment of papyrus now in possession of the
University of Milan (renumbered 46).
Strabo studied under several prominent teachers of various
specialties throughout his early life at different stops along his
Mediterranean travels. His first chapter of education took place in
Sultanhisar , Turkey) under the master of rhetoric
Aristodemus , who had formerly taught the sons of the very same Roman
general who had taken over Pontus. Aristodemus was the head of two
schools of rhetoric and grammar, one in Nysa and one in
Rhodes , the
former of the two cities possessing a distinct intellectual curiosity
of Homeric literature and the interpretation of epics.
Strabo was an
Homer 's poetry, perhaps a consequence of his time spent in
Nysa with Aristodemus.
At around the age of 21,
Strabo moved to Rome, where he studied
philosophy with the Peripatetic
Xenarchus , a highly respected tutor
in Augustus's court. Despite Xenarchus's Aristotelian leanings, Strabo
later gives evidence to have formed his own Stoic inclinations. In
Rome, he also learned grammar under the rich and famous scholar
Tyrannion of Amisus . Although Tyrannion was also a Peripatetic, he
was more relevantly a respected authority on geography, a fact
obviously significant, considering Strabo's future contributions to
The final noteworthy mentor to
Athenodorus Cananites , a
philosopher who had spent his life since 44 BC in
relationships with the Roman elite. Athenodorus endowed to Strabo
three important items: his philosophy, his knowledge, and his
contacts. Unlike the Aristotelian
Xenarchus and Tyrannion who preceded
him in teaching Strabo, Athenodorus was Stoic in mindset, almost
certainly the source of Strabo's diversion from the philosophy of his
former mentors. Moreover, from his own first-hand experience,
Strabo with information about regions of the
empire which he would not otherwise have known.
Geographica Map of the world according to Strabo.
Strabo is most notable for his work _Geographica_ ("Geography"),
which presented a descriptive history of people and places from
different regions of the world known to his era. Map of Europe
according to Strabo.
Although the _Geographica_ was rarely utilized in its contemporary
antiquity, a multitude of copies survived throughout the Byzantine
Empire . It first appeared in Western Europe in
Rome as a Latin
translation issued around 1469. The first Greek edition was published
in 1516 in
Isaac Casaubon , classical scholar and editor of
Greek texts, provided the first critical edition in 1587.
Strabo cited the antique Greek astronomers
Hipparchus , acknowledging their astronomical and mathematical efforts
towards geography, he claimed that a descriptive approach was more
practical, such that his works were designed for statesmen who were
more anthropologically than numerically concerned with the character
of countries and regions.
As such, _Geographica_ provides a valuable source of information on
the ancient world, especially when this information is corroborated by
Strabo is pro-Roman politically, but culturally he reserves primacy
to Greece: "... pro-Roman throughout the Geography. But while he
acknowledges and even praises Roman ascendancy in the political and
military sphere, he also makes a significant effort to establish Greek
Rome in other contexts."
Strabo described small flying reptiles that were 90
centimeters (3 ft) long with a snake-like body and bat-like wings.
Other historians, such as
Aristotle , and Flavius Josephus
, mentioned similar creatures.
As quoted from
Charles Lyell 's _
Principles of Geology _:
Strabo... enters largely, in the Second Book of his _
into the opinions of
Eratosthenes and other Greeks on one of the most
difficult problems in geology, _viz_., by what causes marine shells
came to be plentifully buried in the earth at such great elevations
and distances from the sea.
He notices, amongst others, the explanation of Xanthus the Lydian,
who said that the seas had once been more extensive, and that they had
afterwards been partially dried up, as in his own time many lakes,
rivers, and wells in Asia had failed during a season of drought.
Treating this conjecture with merited disregard,
Strabo passes on to
the hypothesis of Strato , the natural philosopher, who had observed
that the quantity of mud brought down by rivers into the Euxine was so
great, that its bed must be gradually raised, while the rivers still
continued to pour in an undiminished quantity of water. He therefore
conceived that, originally, when the Euxine was an inland sea, its
level had by this means become so much elevated that it burst its
barrier near Byzantium, and formed a communication with the Propontis,
and this partial drainage had already, he supposed, converted the left
side into marshy ground, and that, at last, the whole would be choked
up with soil. So, it was argued, the Mediterranean had once opened a
passage for itself by the Columns of Hercules into the Atlantic, and
perhaps the abundance of sea-shells in Africa, near the Temple of
Jupiter Ammon , might also be the deposit of some former inland sea,
which had at length forced a passage and escaped.
Strabo rejects this theory as insufficient to account for all the
phenomena, and he proposes one of his own, the profoundness of which
modern geologists are only beginning to appreciate. 'It is not,' he
says, 'because the lands covered by seas were originally at different
altitudes, that the waters have risen, or subsided, or receded from
some parts and inundated others. But the reason is, that the same land
is sometimes raised up and sometimes depressed, and the sea also is
simultaneously raised and depressed, so that it either overflows or
returns into its own place again. We must therefore ascribe the cause
to the ground, either to that ground which is under the sea, or to
that which becomes flooded by it, but rather to that which lies
beneath the sea, for this is more moveable, and, on account of its
humidity, can be altered with great celerity. It is proper,' he
observes in continuation, '_to derive our explanations from things
which are obvious, and in some measure of daily occurrence, such as
deluges, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and sudden swellings of the
land beneath the sea;_ for the last raise up the sea also, and when
the same lands subside again, they occasion the sea to be let down.
And it is not merely the small, but the large islands also, and not
merely the islands, but the continents, which can be lifted up
together with the sea; and both large and small tracts may subside,
for habitations and cities, like Bure, Bizona, and many others, have
been engulfed by earthquakes.'
In another place, this learned geographer , in alluding to the
tradition that Sicily had been separated by a convulsion from Italy,
remarks, that at present the land near the sea in those parts was
rarely shaken by earthquakes, since there were now open orifices
whereby fire and ignited matters and waters escaped; but formerly,
when the volcanoes of Etna, the Lipari Islands, Ischia, and others,
were closed up, the imprisoned fire and wind might have produced far
more vehement movements. The doctrine, therefore, that volcanoes are
safety valves, and that the subterranean convulsions are probably most
violent when first the volcanic energy shifts itself to a new quarter,
is not modern.
The very first written definition/discussion on the fossil formation
Nummulite quoted from A.M.
Celâl Şengör ).
_One extraordinary thing which I saw at the pyramids must not be
omitted. Heaps of stones from the quarries lie in front of the
pyramids. Among these are found pieces which in shape and size
resemble lentils. Some contain substances like grains half peeled.
These, it is said, are the remnants of the workmen's food converted
into stone; which is not probable. For at home in our country
(Amasia), there is a long hill in a plain, which abounds with pebbles
of a porus stone, resembling lentils. The pebbles of the sea-shore and
of rivers suggest somewhat of the same difficulty ; some explanation
may indeed be found in the motion in flowing waters, but the
investigation of the above fact presents more difficulty. I have said
elsewhere, that in sight of the pyramids, on the other side in Arabia,
and near the stone quarries from which they are built, is a very rocky
mountain, called the Trojan mountain; beneath it there are caves, and
near the caves and the river a village called Troy, an ancient
settlement of the captive Trojans who had accompanied Menelaus and
The very first written definition/discussion of volcanism (Effusive
eruption ) observed at Katakekaumenē (modern Kula, Western Turkey)
Pliny the Younger witnessed to the eruption of
Vesuvius on 24
August 79 AD in
Pompeii : Karadivlit
Scoria Cone and AA type
basaltic fissure lava flow in Katakekaumenē (modern-day Kula, Turkey
_…There are no trees here, but only the vineyards where they
produce the Katakekaumene wines which are by no means inferior from
any of the wines famous for their quality. The soil is covered with
ashes, and black in color as if the mountainous and rocky country was
made up of fires. Some assume that these ashes were the result of
thunderbolts and sub-terranean explosions, and do not doubt that the
legendary story of
Typhon takes place in this region. Ksanthos adds
that the king of this region was a man called Arimus. However, it is
not reasonable to accept that the whole country was burned down at a
time as a result of such an event rather than as a result of a fire
bursting from underground whose source has now died out. Three pits
are called “Physas” and separated by forty stadia from each other.
Above these pits, there are hills formed by the hot masses burst out
from the ground as estimated by a logical reasoning. Such type of soil
is very convenient for viniculture, just like the Katanasoil which is
covered with ashes and where the best wines are still produced
abundantly. Some writers concluded by looking at these places that
there is a good reason for calling Dionysus by the name
Augustus , ed. (1877). _Strabonis Geographica_. Lipsiae:
Strabo (1852). Gustav Kramer, ed. _Strabonis Geographica. Recens.
G. Kramer. Ed. minor_.
* _Strabo's Geography_ in three volumes as translated by H.C.
Hamilton, ed. H.G. Bohn, 1854–1857: vol. 1
* vol. 2
* vol. 3 (Internet Archive)
* Stefan Radt, ed. (2002–2011). _Strabons Geographika : mit
Übersetzung und Kommentar_. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.
* Jones, H. L., transl. (1917). _The
Geography of Strabo_. Vol. 1
(Books 1 & 2) of 8 vols. London: Heinemann.
* ^ Pontus fell to the Roman general
Pompey in 63 BC and, after the
murder or suicide of
Mithridates VI of Pontus (otherwise known as
Mithridates the Great), was broken up into smaller provinces in 64 BC.
Strabo in Book 12 Chapter 3 Section 41 states that the Romans took
Bithynia "a little before my time", setting the date of
his birth to after 63 BC.
* ^ Accompanied by prefect of
Egypt Aelius Gallus, who had been
sent on a military mission to Arabia.
* ^ He mentions all or most of his teachers as prominent citizens
of their own respective cities.
* ^ This also highlights the international trend of the era that
Greek intellectuals would often instruct the Roman elite.
* ^ Aristodemus was also the grandson of the famous
whose influence is manifest in Strabo's _Geography_.
* ^ Largely due to his future teacher Athenodorus, tutor of
* ^ Thus completing his traditional Greek aristocratic education in
rhetoric, grammar and philosophy. Tyrannion was known to have
befriended Cicero and taught his nephew, Quintus.
* ^ _Strabo_ (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus ) was a term
employed by the Romans for anyone whose eyes were distorted or
deformed. The father of
Pompey was called "
Pompeius Strabo ". A native
of Sicily so clear-sighted that he could see things at great distance
as if they were nearby was also called "Strabo."
* ^ _Geography_ Book XII Chapter 3 Section 15, "Amaseia, my
* ^ _A_ _B_ Horace Leonard Jones, translator, _The
Strabo_, Heinemann, London, 1917, p. xxv-xxvi
* ^ Sarah Pothecary, _When was the