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Strabo (22AD) (Geography)

Taken from: The Geography of Strabo published in Vol. VII  of the Loeb Classical Library edition, (from the website of Uchicago)



Book 2 chapter3


In giving the names of those who are said to have circumnavigated Libya Poseidonius says that Herodotus believes that certain men commissioned by Neco accomplished the circumnavigation of Libya; and adds that Heracleides of Pontus in one of his Dialogues makes a certain Magus who had come to the court of Gelo assert that he had circumnavigated Libya. And, after stating that these reports are unsupported by testimony, he tells the story of a certain Eudoxus of Cyzicus, a sacred ambassador and peace herald at the festival of Persephone. Eudoxus, the story goes, came to Egypt in the reign of Euergetes the Second;116 and he became associated with the king and the king's ministers, and particularly in connection with the voyages up the Nile; for he was a man inclined to admire the peculiarities of regions and was also not uninformed about them. Now it so happened, the story continues, that a certain Indian was brought to the king by the coast-guards of the recess of the Arabian Gulf, who said that they had found him half-dead and alone on a stranded ship, but that they did not know who he was or where he came from, since they did not understand his language; and the king gave the Indian into the charge of men who would teach him Greek; and when the Indian had learned Greek, he related that on his voyage from India he by a p379strange mischance117 mistook his course and reached Egypt in safety, but only after having lost all his companions by starvation; and when his story was doubted, he promised to act as guide on the trip to India for the men who had been previously selected by the King; and of this party Eudoxus, also, became a member.


 So Eudoxus sailed away with presents; and he returned with a cargo of perfumes and precious stones (some of which the rivers bring down with the sands, while others are fortified by digging, being solidified from a liquid state, just as our crystals are). 99But Eudoxus was wholly deceived in his expectations, for Euergetes took from him his entire cargo. And after the death of Euergetes, his wife, Cleopatra, succeeded him on the throne; and so Eudoxus was again sent out, by her also, and this time with a larger outfit. But on his return voyage he was driven out of his course by the winds to the south of Ethiopia, and being driven to certain places he conciliated the people by sharing with them bread, wine, and dried figs (for they had no share of such things), and in return therefor he received a supply of fresh water and the guidance of pilots, and he also made a list of some of their words. And he found an end of a wooden prow that had come from a wrecked ship and had a horse carved on it; and when he learned that this piece of wreckage belonged to some voyagers who had been sailing from the west, he took it with him when he turned back upon his homeward voyage. And when he arrived safely in Egypt, inasmuch as Cleopatra no longer reigned but p381her son in her stead, he was again deprived of everything, for it was discovered that he had stolen much property. But he brought the figure-head to the market-place and showed it to the shipmasters, and learned from them that it was a figure-head from Gades; for he was told that whereas the merchants of Gades fit out large ships, the poor men fit out small ships which they call "horses" from the devices on the prows of their ships, and that they sail with these small ships on fishing voyages around the coast of Maurusia as far as the river Lixus; but some of the shipmasters, indeed, recognized the figure-head as having belonged to one of the ships that had sailed rather too far beyond the Lixus River and had not returned home safely.


 Note: Eudoxus tried then to sail around Africa (paying himself for the expenses): First attempt failed near Canary Islands, never returned from 2nd try.


 Taken from: Ancient History Sourcebook: Accounts of Meröe, Kush, and Axum, Fordham University


 Book 16 Chapter4


Artemidorus says that the promontory of Arabia, opposite to Deire, is called Acila, and that the persons who live near Deire practice male circumcision. In sailing from Heroöpolis along Troglodytica, a city is met with called Philotera [modern Al-Ghurdaqah], after the sister of the second Ptolemy; it was founded by Satyrus, who was sent to explore the hunting-ground for elephants, and Troglodytica itself…………………….(Strabo mentions Satyrus, who because of his job: exploring Troglodytae is believed to have rounded cape Ras Hafun and visited at least the northern part of Azania.)


 Next is the mountain Elephas [modern Fellis or Fel], a mountain projecting into the sea, and a creek; then follows the large harbor of Psygmus [modern Qandala], a watering-place called that of Cynocephali [modern Alula], and the last promontory of this coast, Notuceras (or Southern Horn) [modern Cape Guardafui]. After doubling this cape towards the south, we have no more descriptions, he says, of harbors or places, because nothing is known of the sea-coast beyond this point. Along the coast there are both pillars and altars of Pytholaus, Lichas, Pythangelus, Leon, and Charimortus, that is, along the known coast from Deire as far as Notuceras; but the distance is not determined. The country abounds with elephants and lions called myrmeces (ants). They have their genital organs reversed. Their skin is of a golden color, but they are more bare than the lions of Arabia.


 It produces also leopards of great strength and courage, and the rhinoceros. The rhinoceros is little inferior to the elephant; not, according to Artemidorus, in length to the crest, although he says he had seen one at Alexandria, but it is somewhat about a span less in height, judging at least from the one I saw. Nor is the color the pale yellow of boxwood, but like that of the elephant. It was of the size of a bull. Its shape approached very nearly to that of the wild boar, and particularly the forehead; except the front, which is furnished with a hooked horn, harder than any bone. It uses it as a weapon, like the wild boar its tusks. It has also two hard welts, like folds of serpents, encircling the body from the chin to the belly, one on the withers, the other on the loins. This description is taken from one I myself saw. Artemidorus adds to his account of this animal, that it is peculiarly inclined to dispute with the elephant for the place of pasture; thrusting its forehead under the belly of the elephant, and ripping it up, unless prevented by the trunk and tusks of his adversary.


 Camel-leopards (giraffes) are bred in these parts, but they do not in any respect resemble leopards, for their variegated skin is more like the streaked and spotted skin of fallow deer. The hinder quarters are so very much lower than the fore quarter that it seems as if the animal sat upon its rump, which is the height of an ox; the fore legs are as long as those of the camel. The neck rises high and straight up, but the head greatly exceeds in height that of the camel. From this want of proportion, the speed of the animal is not so great, I think as it is described by Artemidorus, according to whom it is not to be surpassed. It is not however a wild animal, but rather like a domesticated beast; for it shows no signs of savage disposition.


 This country, continues Artemidorus, produces also sphinxes, cynocephali, and cebi, which have the face of a lion, and the rest of the body like that of a panther; they are as large as deer. There are wild bulls also, which are carnivorous, and greatly exceed ours in size and swiftness. They are of a red color. The crocuttas [the spotted hyena] is, according to this author, of mixed progeny of a wolf and a dog. What Metrodorus the Scepsian relates, in his book "on Custom," is like fable, and to be disregarded. Artemidorus mentions serpents also of thirty cubits in length, which can master elephants and bulls: in this he does not exaggerate. But the Indian and African serpents are of a more fabulous size, and are said to have grass growing on their backs.


 The mode of life among the Troglodytae is nomadic. Each tribe is governed by tyrants. Their wives and children are common, except those of the tyrants. The offence corrupting the wife of a tyrant is punished with the fine of sheep. The women carefully paint themselves with antimony. They wear about their necks shells, as a protection again fascination by witchcraft. In their quarrels, which are pastures, they first push away each other with their hands, they then use stones, or, if wounds are inflicted, arrows and daggers. The women put an end to these disputes, by going into the midst of the combatants and using prayers and entreaties.


 Their food consists of flesh and bones pounded together, wrapped up in skins and then baked, or prepared after many other methods by the cooks, who are called Acatharti, or impure. In this way they eat not only the flesh, but the bones and skins also. They use (as an ointment for the body?) a mixture of blood and milk; the drink of the people in general is an infusion of the paliurus (buckthorn); that of the tyrants is mead; the honey being expressed from some kind of flower. Their winter sets in when the Etesian winds begin to blow (for they have rain), and the remaining season is summer.


 They go naked, or wear skins only, and carry clubs. They deprive themselves of the foreskin, but some are circumcised like Egyptians. The Ethiopian Megabarae have their clubs armed with iron knobs. They use spears and shields which are covered with raw hides. The other Ethiopians use bows and lances. Some of the Troglodytae, when they bury their dead, bind the body from the neck to the legs with twigs of the buckthorn. They then immediately throw stones over the body, at the same time laughing and rejoicing, until they have covered the face. They then place over it a ram's horn, and go away. They travel by night; the male cattle have bells fastened to them, in order to drive away wild beasts with the sound. They use torches also and arrows in repelling them. They watch during the night, on account of their flocks, and sing some peculiar song around their fires. . . .


 Note: His description of Africa does not go any further south then this.