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date: 27 October 2020

Hecataeus(1)locked

, Greek geographer and mythographer
  • Stephanie West

Extract

Hecataeus (1), son of Hegesander, of *Miletus, the most important of the early Ionian prose-writers (see logographers). For his date we depend on Herodotus' account (5. 36, 124–6) of his role in the planning of the *Ionian Revolt (500–494 bce); his prudent opposition, based on geopolitical considerations, suggests a relatively senior figure.Besides improving *Anaximander's map of the world, which he envisaged as a disc encircled by the river Oceanus, he wrote a pioneering work of systematic *geography, the Periēgēsis or Periodos gēs (‘Journey round the World’), divided into two books, Europe and Asia (which included Africa). (We do not know why *Callimachus (3) regarded as spurious the text of the latter known to him.) This offered information about the places and peoples to be encountered on a clockwise coastal voyage round the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, starting at the Straits of Gibraltar and finishing on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, with diversions to the islands of the Mediterranean and inland to Scythia, Persia, India, Egypt, and Nubia. It is uncertain how far his information rested on his own observations, as is the extent of Herodotus' debt to his work. We have over 300 fragments, but many are merely citations in *Stephanus of Byzantium recording the occurrence of a place-name in the Periēgēsis.

Subjects

  • Classical Literature

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