Philosopher, Geographer, Historian (63 BC – 24 AD)
Strabo came from Amasya of Pontus. He was a Stoic philosopher, but he is mostly remembered today for his work as a geographer and a historian. Nearly all of the information drawn from his life comes from his own work. He was a contemporary of Poseidonius.
He studied in Caria, Rome and Alexandria and travelled to many different places of the world, from Italy to Syria and from the Euxine Pontus to Aethiopia. Based on his travels, he wrote his magnum opus consisting of 17 books called Geographica. With this work is remained in history, as it was the Bible of geography throughout the ages. It contains scientific geographical data on nearly the entire known world at the time, except for the Americas. The first two books contain the definition and the methodology of geography, as well as a short description on the history of geography. In the following books he proceeds with descriptions of the entire Mediterranean, starting from Iberia and Gaul and going north to Great Brittain, Ireland, Thule and the Alps. Moreover, he provides with detailed descriptions on Italy, Sicily, the pardanubian territories, the Balkans and Greece before passing to the lands of Asia, beginning with the Caucasian lands and going to Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Persia, Arabia, Palestine, Syria, Africa, Egypt and India.
Additionally, Strabo compiled information on the ethnographic background of each country, their agricultural and industrial activities, the histories of their cities, geological phenomena such as the volcanic landscapes of Italy and Sicily, the tides of Iberia, the rise and fall of the waters of Nile etc and attempted to identify the cities mentioned by Homer in his epics. His main purpose of writing this massive treatise was to show what the earth of each country gave to its peoples and what these peoples did with it.
Strabo also wrote another treatise called Historical Sketches consisting of 47 books of historical content. The books chronicle the history starting from the Carthagean war in 146 BC until the foundation of the Roman Empire. It is considered to be a follow-up of Polybius’ Histories. In constrast to Geographica, only a number of fragmnets survive.
His work exerted a great influence in geographic science in the Roman and Middle Ages. His books were reprinted all over Europe during the Renaissance and continue to this day to be an invaluable geographic source of the ancient world.
- Georgakopoulos, Konstantinos. Ancient Greek Scientists. Georgiades, Athens: 1995. Print.
- Lasserre, Francois. Strabo. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Britannica.com. Web.
- “Strabon”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.