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date: 08 December 2023


A Dictionary of Scientists
 Market House Books Market House Books


(c.63 bcad 23) Greek geographer and historian

Strabo, who was born at Amaseia (now Amasya in Turkey), traveled to Rome in 44 bc and remained there until about 31 bc. He visited Corinth in 29 bc and in about 24 bc sailed up the Nile.

Although the historical writings of Strabo, including his Historical Sketches, in 47 books, have been almost entirely lost, his Geography, in 17 books, has survived virtually intact. This major geographical work is an important source of information on the ancient world. In it Strabo accepted the traditional description of the Earth as divided into five zones with the oikoumene, or inhabited part, represented as a parallelogram spread over eight lines of latitude and seven meridians of longitude. Where he excelled, however, was in the field of historical and cultural geography and he gave a detailed account of the history and culture of the lands and people of the Roman Empire and of such areas as India, which lay beyond the dominion of Augustus. In this he quoted much from the earlier Greeks, including Eratosthenes, and Artemidorus.

Strabo, not content merely to describe the lands of the civilized world, also wished to understand its enormous diversity. He rejected the simple climatic determinism that he attributed to the Stoic Poseidonius, arguing in its place for the role of institutions and education. Despite the value of this work Strabo seemed to exercise little influence until Byzantine times.