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date: 31 October 2020

Euxine Sealocked

  • David C. Braund

Extract

Euxine Sea (Εὔξεινος, lit. ‘the hospitable’), the Greek name for the Black Sea, evidently a euphemism. From a Mediterranean perspective, it was cold, very deep, not very saline, and prone to storms. It carried extensive trade both between its shores and with the Mediterranean world (e.g. Polyb. 4. 38).The once-popular notion that Greek penetration of the Black Sea was impossible before c.700 bce, is no longer tenable, though Greek settlement there seems to have been minimal before that date. Most Greek settlements around the Black Sea were established during the 6th cent. bce and regarded themselves as Milesian foundations.The Black Sea and its region became a favourite subject of geographical disquisition throughout antiquity (e.g. ps.-Scylax, *Polybius (1), ps.-Scymnus, *Arrian, *Ammianus Marcellinus, ps.-Arrian, and *Procopius). It was a convenient locus of ‘otherness’, notably of *Amazons. The earliest extant treatment of the Black Sea is that of Herodotus (esp. 4. 85–6), whose errors and misconceptions are such that it has even been claimed that he did not visit the Black Sea. In the Byzantine period the Black Sea enjoyed a new significance through its proximity to the centre of power; see trade; colonization, greek; miletus.

Subjects

  • Historical Geography

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