<br><h3> Chapter One </h3> <i>Eratosthenes and the History of Geography <p> <p> The Background</i> <p> The discipline of geography began with Eratosthenes of Kyrene and the publication of his <i>Geographika</i> in the last third of the third century BC. Before that time there had been interest in the surface of the earth, its formative processes, and its shape and structure, but it was Eratosthenes who brought these divergent streams of thought and experience together to create a new scholarly discipline. He also devised the terminology to accompany his ideas, with the new words "geography" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])and "geographer" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]),based on the verb [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], "to write [about] the earth." Eratosthenes' treatise was titled [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (<i>Geographika</i>), and the word "geography" was probably created by analogy with terms such as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], "to measure [or survey] land," which itself had evolved from a technique, as Herodotos saw it, to a scholarly discipline. In writing his treatise Eratosthenes built on a tradition of interest in the surface of the earth and its landforms and in habitants that went back to the beginning of Greek intellectualism. He called Homer the first geographer (F1), a casual application of the technical vocabulary of the new discipline, but also recognition of Homer's role in early understanding of the inhabited earth. Homer's world was astonishingly broad, with vague knowledge of the mountains of central Europe, the peoples north of the Black Sea, and the upper Nile and pygmy tribes. There are hints of the climatic realities of the far north, where the Kimmerians never see the sun, but much less knowledge of the west, with nothing beyond Sicily, and no sense of any overall concept of the earth or its surface. <p> When Greeks began to spread into the western Mediterranean in the latter eighth century BC, they learned about these regions as well as the overall shape of the sea and its single, western outlet. About 630 BC one Kolaios of Samos became the first Greek to go out into the Atlantic and to gain access to the wealthy mineral resources of the southwestern Iberian Peninsula. Although this was encroaching on Carthaginian territory, both wealth and topographical data flowed back into the eastern Mediterranean. To the south, the establishment of Kyrene at about the same time provided some knowledge about interior Africa, as the city soon became an outlet for farranging trade, the north end of routes that originated south of the Sahara. Interest in circum navigating Africa and connecting the lands south of the red Sea to those beyond the Pillars of Herakles resulted in a number of expeditions, the first at the time of the pharaoh necho II (610–595 BC). Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and even Persians made the attempt. Also in the seventh century BC Greeks settled the Black Sea and became more aware of the rivers and peoples to its north. To the east the various great empires could provide information, especially after the rise of Persia in the sixth century BC. Cyrus the Great had gone to his death among the Massagetai, east of the Caspian Sea, in 529 BC, and about 15 years later Dareios I commissioned a certain Skylax of Karyanda to sail down the Indos and to return to the red Sea. His published report was probably the earliest Greek travel account: it survived to be used by Herodotos. <p> By 500 BC all the topographical and ethnographic information resulting from the expansion of the Greek horizon was beginning to find literary expression. Soon after Skylax, perhaps by 500 BC, the term [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("writer of stories") was applied to those who used the new medium of prose to record city histories, ethnographies, and topographical data. Among the several who are known, the most significant is Hekataios of Miletos, a prominent political leader in his own city around 500 BC, who wrote a <i>Circuit of the Earth</i> in two books, which included a discussion of Europe and Asia: he was probably the first to see the world in terms of continents. His toponymic range was amazingly widespread: well into the Iberian Peninsula, Keltic territory, Skythia, the Kaukasos and beyond, India, and Ethiopia. The extant fragments are mostly toponyms, so it cannot easily be determined how much ethnography and geography were included, yet many of his ideas matured and became more accessible in the <i>Histories</i> of Herodotos, written half a century later. <p> Hekataios also made use of a recent technique that would become inseparably connected with the discipline of geography. This was map-making, said to have been an invention of Anaximandros of Miletos, an important figure in both the theoretical and practical origins of geography. He was an associate or disciple of his famous compatriot Thales, the originator of Greek intellectual thought, which places Anaximandros in the first half of the sixth century BC. Significant in the development of Greek natural science and cosmology, he is of interest in the history of geography not only as the first mapmaker but also as the first to conceive of the shape of the earth, although, as is generally the case with early Ionian Greek thought, the sources are elusive. Herodotos did not mention Anaximandros by name but referred several times to maps, derisively complaining about the inaccuracies of those of his own day and recounting the tale of how the Spartans were unexpectedly convinced not to give aid to the Ionian revolt, because a map shown to them by Aristagoras of Miletos demonstrated how far away Persia was. Herodotos also provided a source for creating such a map, since in his <i>Histories</i> this incident is followed immediately by a precise itinerary of the royal road from Sardis to Sousa, complete with distances, stopping points, and a few topographical features, a digression that intrudes into the account of the career of Aristagoras. These comments by Herodotos are the earliest extant discussions of maps. Later authors, including Eratosthenes himself (F12), specifically associated Anaximandros with the origins of mapmaking. Thus the technique originated in Miletos during the sixth century BC: by the following century Herodotos, the first to realize that maps could mislead as well as inform, offered his critique and complained that they tended to overregularize the surface of the earth. Yet mapmaking was firmly established as one of the essential tools for the emergent discipline of geography. By providing a visual overview, maps also made it possible to relate distant portions of the world to one another, a strikingly new way of looking at the earth. Herodotos, probably using data from Hekataios, was able to suggest that Egypt, Kilikia, Sinope, and the mouth of the Istros lay on the same line,15 which, although a crude calculation (the mouth of the Istros is over 500 km. west of the longitude of Sinope), is the first attempt to create a meridian. He did not have a specific term for this concept but merely stated that places "lie opposite" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) to one another, a term probably long understood by seamen to connect points on opposite sides of the Mediterranean. Yet this sense of "lying opposite" survived, and Eratosthenes was to use the concept for places that were far apart but on the same latitude or longitude. The Greek word for midday, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], became the term for a geographical meridian, since when it was noon at a given place, every other point where it was also noon was on the same meridian. <p> Anaximandros' other great contribution to geography was his theorization about the very shape of the earth itself. Building on Thales' view of a world floating on the water that was the basic component of the cosmos, Anaximandros believed that the earth was shaped like a column (presumably the surface of a drum), perhaps reflecting the monumental stone architecture that was beginning to spread through the Greek world in his day. Although his concept was soon abandoned, it marks the first systematic attempt to explain the overall shape and form of the earth, which, like mapmaking, would become an essential part of the discipline of geography. Yet the concept of the earth as a disk or column drum had apparent flaws, especially as seamanship revealed both the curved surface of the earth and the visible changes in celestial phenomena as one went north or south. Although there were inventive attempts to explain these pieces of information within the concept of an earthdisk, before long thoughts turned toward conceiving of the earth as a sphere. This seems a Pythagorean idea, connected with the harmonic and mathematical perfection of the cosmos and the sphere. Parmenides of Elea, active in the fifth century BC, is also said to have tinkered with the concept, and perhaps was the first to divide the earth into climate zones. It is with Plato that there is the first extant and extensive description of this new perspective of the world, as well as another important idea, that its inhabited part was only a small portion of the entire earth. <p> Many of these ideas were formalized in the work of Plato's associate the mathematician Eudoxos of Knidos. In his <i>Circuit of the Earth</i> he put forth the idea that the inhabited part of the earth was much longer eastwest than northsouth, which led to the natural conclusion that India could be reached by sailing west from the Pillars of Herakles. He may also have been the first to estimate the circumference of the earth, and divided its surface into latitudinal zones, probably using the word that Eratosthenes was later to adopt, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], originally meaning "slope." Eudoxos does not seem to have carried the idea of <i>klimata</i> far, but it laid the groundwork for Eratosthenes' more precise conceptualization. <p> By the midfourth century BC, the accumulation of knowledge made it possible for Ephoros of Kyme to include world geography as a major section of his history, published shortly after 340 BC. In this treatise he divided the world into four ethnic sections and provided more information on the north than previously available, and also discussed scientific issues such as the tides. Although the word "geography" was probably still not yet in use, Ephoros moved closer than anyone previously to creating an actual scholarly discipline. <p> The proliferation of topographical and ethnographic knowledge because of the travels of Alexander is well known. This expansion of horizons created a large amount of data, especially about the remote eastern parts of the world, which was made accessible by the published reports of those with him, many of which were used as primary sources by Eratosthenes. Although the focus of the era and successive generations was toward the east, the west was also more intensively explored: Pytheas of Massalia traveled to the British Isles and reached the Arctic and Baltic in the 320s BC, and an unknown traveler went down the West African coast perhaps as far as the Senegal river sometime between 361 and 335 BC. <p> Despite the sudden increase in topographical data, theoretical speculation was not neglected. Aristotle's thoughts on geography are little known, but he provided the first extant figure for the circumference of the earth (400,000 stadia) and suggested that one could reach India by sailing west from the Pillars of Herakles. He was also crucial in pre serving and synthesizing the ideas of his predecessors, and his <i>Meteorologika</i> contains a certain amount of geographical material, but no title survives that seems to indicate a purely geographical treatise. Yet his students and immediate successors, the last generations before Eratosthenes, were active in the discipline. Dikaiarchos of Messana wrote a geographical treatise, perhaps titled <i>Circuit of the Earth</i>, and created the main terrestrial parallel, making the east-west length of the inhabited world one and one-half times the north-south. He also may have been responsible for calculating the circumference of the earth at 300,000 stadia and further refining the terrestrial zones. He was the first to make use of the information from the Arctic supplied by Pytheas, which far expanded the geographical extent of observed data. Another member of the Aristotelian school, Straton of Lampsakos, examined questions about the formation of the seas. With the theories of Dikaiarchos and Straton, the study of the earth had reached the point where Eratosthenes was able to pull all former thought together and use his own original mind to create the discipline of geography. <p> <p> <b><i>The Life of Eratosthenes</i></b> <p> Although biographical data about Eratosthenes are limited, it is possible to reconstruct a broad outline of his career. He was the son of Aglaos and was born in the mid-280s BC in Kyrene. Both his name and that of his father are rare, indicating humble origins and demonstrative of the upward mobility possible in the Hellenistic world. Kyrene, founded by Greeks in the seventh century BC, had long existed as a prosperous and cosmopolitan outpost of Greek culture, lying between Egyptian and Carthaginian territory, and serving as the contact point between the Greek world and interior Africa. The city controlled a vast territory, perhaps more than any Classical Greek state. It had a rich economy, based largely on the export of horses and silphium. Libyans had long been known to the Greeks for their excellent horsemanship, and the exotic herb silphium ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], <i>ferula tingitana</i>), almost mystical in its reputation, had been exported to mainland Greece as early as the time of Solon and had a wide variety of culinary and medicinal uses. Kyrene was full of distinctive art and architecture and had a flourishing intellectual tradition: in the fifth century BC the engaging personality Aristippos had come to Athens to study with Sokrates, and, with his daughter Arete and her son Aristippos, developed the Kyrenaian school of thought. Like most Greek states, the history of Kyrene is one of political instability, with the city eventually coming under sporadic Persian control and then that of Alexander the Great. Upon Alexander's death Ptolemaios I provided a new constitution, although there continued to be occasional revolts and independent periods. It was into this environment that Eratosthenes was born during the last years of Ptolemaios I. <p> By the late 260s BC Eratosthenes had gone to Athens for study. He was impressed with the vigorous intellectual environment of the city, and mentioned among his teachers Ariston of Chios, Arkesilaos of Pitane, who had recently become director of the Academy, and Bion of Borysthenes, whose views were eclectic. Other teachers, according to Strabo, included the little-known Apelles of Chios and the founder of Stoicism himself, Zenon of Kition, although any contact would have been brief since he died shortly after Eratosthenes' arrival. Also part of his education would have been the mathematical training at the Academy implicit in his later work. The <i>Souda</i> adds two more teachers, Lysanias of Kyrene, a philologist and grammarian with a Homeric interest, and Eratosthenes' compatriot the famous Kallimachos. Whether or not Kallimachos was one of his teachers, Eratosthenes would have had regular contact with the most prominent Kyrenaian intellectual of the previous generation. Their paths would have crossed numerous times, and they evidently had academic disputes. <p> Eratosthenes' exposure to the varied philosophical schools of Athens led Strabo to condemn his lack of depth as a philosopher, someone who had learned only enough to see philosophy as an escape ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). The extensive nature of Eratosthenes' later scholarly endeavors partially supports this view: he was expert, but not <i>the</i> expert, in many things, and thus was called "Beta" ("Second") or "Pentathlos." Like so many interdisciplinary scholars from ancient to modern times, he could be assailed from all sides. Strabo's irritation that he did not pay due respect to Zenon further reveals the independence of Eratosthenes' outlook and endeavors. <p> Thus Eratosthenes' education emphasized philosophy and, to a lesser extent, mathematics, with perhaps some philological training. Lacking is any evidence for a geographical education, but this is not unexpected given that there was no such discipline. Yet the Greek literature that Eratosthenes studied was replete with references to far peoples and places. This was especially true of Homer, whom Eratosthenes would come to believe was the first geographer. Hekataios' <i>Circuit of the Earth</i>, with its list of distant places, may still have been available. Aischylos, Herodotos, and others provided material that would coalesce into the data for geographical scholarship. Half a century before Eratosthenes' birth, Ephoros had been the first to write on world geography. Eratosthenes' upbringing in Kyrene exposed him to exotic contacts at one end of the Greek world, and it is especially interesting that one of his teachers, Bion, came from the other end, from far-off Borysthenes, the collective term for the cluster of Milesian settlements at the mouth of the river of the same name (the modern Dneiper) at the north end of the Black Sea, one of the most remote areas of Greek settlement. <p> <i>(Continues...)</i> <p> <p> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>ERATOSTHENES' Geography</b> by <b>DUANE W. ROLLER</b> Copyright © 2010 by Princeton University Press. Excerpted by permission of PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.