STRABO

ca. 64 B.C.- after A.D. 21

Greek geographer

Strabo was one of the most important geographers of ancient times. His Geographia contains important historical information V_/ about the Roman Empire, including otherwise unknown details about daily life in the first century A.D. The 17 books of Geographia contain material from many other ancient writers whose own works have been lost.

Born in Pontus, a region of northern Asia Minor, Strabo studied with local teachers. Around 44 B.C. he traveled to Rome to continue his studies. After completing his education, he traveled extensively throughout the Roman empire and visited Egypt, Ethiopia, and the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Late in life, he returned home to Pontus, where he wrote some of Geographia.

In Geographia, Strabo attempted to write a work that combined history and geography. Unlike earlier writers, such as Eratosthenes (who wrote the first complete description of the inhabited world), Strabo cared little for theory or mathematical calculations. Instead, he emphasized the practical details of the Roman world. He described the land and the people of each place he visited, and he combined this information with the historical, economic, and political background of the region. Because Strabo was probably a Roman citizen and several prominent Romans were his patrons*, he intended his work to help Rome. Geography, according to Strabo, was particularly important for Roman generals and statesmen in extending and administering the various peoples and regions that comprised the empire. Strabo pointed out the lack of profit to Rome from lands, such as Britain,on the fringes of the empire. (See also Geography and Geology, Mediterranean.)

* patron special guardian, protector; or supporter

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