Cultural Anthropology

Biography Strabo of Amasya



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Strabo (64 BC to 23 AD) was a Greek geographer and historian.

Birth

Strabo was born in Amasya, Pontus, in Greece to a rich family. His mother’s relatives were important members of the regime of King Mithridates VI of Pontus.

Education

Strabo had a Greek education. He studied in Nysa under the master of rhetoric Aristodemus. He then moved to Rome and learned from Tyrannion of Amisus and peripatetic philosopher Xenarchus. He was influenced by the philosopher Athenodorus Cannanites to become a Stoic.

His work

Strabo is most well-known for his work "The Geographica." This geographical treatise described the history of people and places of all regions of the world known to him. It is a valuable source of information on the historical world in that era.

Strabo traveled widely. He visited Egypt, Ethiopia, Italy and Turkey. However, the places that he visited comprised only a small portion of all the places described in the Geographica. The bulk of the material of his work was taken from Greek and Roman sources that have since been lost. The Geographica cited the works of geographers, historians and astronomers such as Eratosthenes, Posidonius, Hipparchus and Apollodorus. As such, the Geographica also repeated the errors that these scholars perpetuated.

Besides geographical work, Strabo also wrote historical texts. He composed a "Hypomnemata Historica," in which he described the lives of famous men in his time. However, this extensive work, in 43 volumes, was lost. He also wrote his own "Historical Memoirs," in which he described his life and writings. He also described his travels from Armenia to Etruria, and from the Black Sea to Ethiopia.

The Geographica

The Geographica is a 17-volume work that attempts to collect all the geographical knowledge available at that time. The first two books are introductory; the third to tenth books describe Europe (Spain, Italy and Greece). The eleventh book describes Asia; the twelfth to fourteenth books describe Asia Minor. The fifteenth book is on India and Persia; the sixteenth on Assyria, Babylonia, Syria and Arabia; and the last on Egypt and Africa.

The Geographica described the inhabited world as it was known then as a landmass comprising Europe, Africa, Asia and their islands. The character, peculiarities and natural produce of each country were described. The physical and mathematical geography of each country were also described, giving an idea of the topology of the region at that time.

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