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Strabo(strā`bō), b. c.63 B.C., d. after A.D. 21, Greek geographer, historian, and philosopher, b. Amasya, Pontus. He studied in Asia Minor, Greece, Rome, and Alexandria and traveled in Europe, N Africa, and W Asia. Primarily a historian, he wrote a group of historical sketches (47 books) quoted by later authors but almost entirely lost. His Geographia, written subsequently, is based on his own observations and on the works of his predecessors, including Homer, Eratosthenes, Polybius, and Posidonius; it contains historical material as well as descriptions of places and peoples and is a rich source of ancient knowledge of the world. Its value is uneven, in great part because Strabo attributed to Homer an accurate knowledge of places and peoples mentioned in his epics and because he virtually disregarded Herodotus' information, which was often firsthand. The Geographia (extant except for part of the 7th book) is divided into 17 books: 2 introductory (largely a discussion of the definition and scope of geography), 8 on Europe, 6 on Asia, and one on Africa, mainly Egypt. Although a Latin translation appeared in 1472, the first printed edition in the original Greek was the Aldine (1516). There are numerous modern editions and translations.
See the Loeb Classical Library edition, The Geography of Strabo (ed. by H. L. Jones, 8 vol., 1917–32), with an introduction on his life and works.
Born 64 or 63 B.C.; died 23 or 24 A.D. Greek geographer and historian.
Born in Amasya in Asia Minor, Strabo traveled in Greece, Asia Minor, Italy, and Egypt. His Historical Notes, which have not survived, were intended as a continuation of Polybius’s History and contained a description of events from 146 B.C. to approximately 31 B.C.—from the sacking of Corinth and Carthage by the Romans to, evidently, the battle of Actium.
In his Geography, written circa 7 B.C. as a continuation of his Historical Notes, Strabo set out to describe the ecumene, the part of the world inhabited by man, by comparing and synthesizing all the data available at that time. Historians therefore consider Strabo’s work a summing up of the geographical knowledge of the ancient world. The most important writers of the many cited by Strabo as sources were Eratosthenes, Hipparchus, Polybius, and Poseidonius. Strabo made extensive use of the historical traditions of Asia Minor, especially accounts of the wars of Mithri-dates of the first century B.C., many of which historians based on local historical and geographical works. Thus Strabo was able to provide a complete description of the Bosporan state and the Caucasus.
Strabo intended his Geography as a practical guide for Roman statesmen, military commanders, provincial administrators, merchants, and the like. The work consequently contains numerous facts on ethnography, history, and everyday life and in many cases is the only source of information on these subjects. Of the 17 books that make up his Geography, only the first two, which are devoted to mathematical geography, are of a theoretical nature. The remaining books contain descriptions of countries and regions. The third through sixth deal with Spain, Gaul, Britain, Italy, and Sicily, the seventh through tenth with northern and eastern Europe, the northern Balkans, and Greece, the 11th through 14th with the northern and eastern Black Sea regions and Asia Minor, and the 15th through 17th with India, Mesopotamia, Arabia, and Egypt. Strabo’s Geography was the very first attempt at a historical geography and is a valuable historical source.
EDITIONSThe Geography of Strabo, With an English Translation by H, L. Jones, vols. 1–8. London, 1917–32.
In Russian translation:
Geografiia. (Translated and with a foreword by G. A. Stratanovskii.) Leningrad, 1964.
REFERENCESArskii, F N. Strabon. Moscow, 1974.
Aly, W. Strabon von Amaseia. Bonn, 1957.