Strabo

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Strabo[1] (Greek: Στράβων; 63/64 BC – ca. AD 24) was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.

Contents

Life

Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus (modern Amasya, Turkey),[2] a city which he said to be situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea. Pontus had recently fallen to the Roman Empire, and although politically he was a proponent of Roman imperialism, Strabo belonged on his mother's side to a prominent family whose members had held important positions under the resisting regime of King Mithridates VI of Pontus.[3]

Strabo's life was characterized by extensive travels. He journeyed to Egypt and Kush, as far west as coastal Tuscany and as far south as Ethiopia in addition to his travels in Asia Minor and time spent in Rome. Travel throughout the Mediterranean and Near East, especially for scholarly purposes, was popular during this era, and was facilitated by the relative peace enjoyed throughout the reign of Augustus (27 BC - AD 14). He moved to Rome in 44 BC, and stayed there, studying and writing, until at least 31 BC. In 29 BC, on his way to Corinth (where Augustus was at the time), he visited the island of Gyaros in the Aegean Sea for several years. Around 25 BC, he sailed up the Nile until reaching Philae,[4] after which point there is little record of his proceedings until 17 AD, when he returned to Rome to finish compiling a final draft of his Geography during his final years.

It is not known precisely when Strabo's Geography was written, though comments within the work itself place the finished version within the reign of Emperor Tiberius. Some place its first drafts around 7 AD, others around 18 AD. Last dateable mention is given to the death in 23 AD of Juba II, king of Maurousia (Mauretania), who is said to have died "just recently".[5] On the presumption that "recently" means within a year, Strabo stopped writing that year or the next (24 AD), when he died.

The first of Strabo's major works, Historical Sketches (Historica hypomnemata), written while he was in Rome (ca. 20 BC), is nearly completely lost. Meant to cover the history of the known world from the conquest of Greece by the Romans, Strabo quotes it himself and other classical authors mention that it existed, although the only surviving document is a fragment of papyrus now in possession of the University of Milan (renumbered [Papyrus] 46). Several different dates have been proposed for Strabo's death, but most of them conclude that he died shortly after 23 AD.

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