A Road Trip with Strabo

Memory and Composition in the Geography

in Mnemosyne
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A number of places that feature in Strabo’s description of the Asian peninsula were situated on the ancient road that ran between the Euphrates river and the city of Ephesus. It is likely that Strabo journeyed along the entire thousand-kilometre length of the road, even though he makes explicit reference to his presence in only a few locations. He most probably made the journey as a youth on his way to Roman Asia, in the south west of the peninsula, from Pontus in the north. Decades pass before Strabo, as an old man, writes the Geography and includes in it the memories of places he had visited. The outdated tone of some of his descriptions reflects this passage of time.

A Road Trip with Strabo

Memory and Composition in the Geography

in Mnemosyne



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Dueck 200015-30.


Pothecary 201140-42.


Syme (1995 356-367) Lindsay (1997) Dueck (1999 467-475) and Pothecary (2002 390-392) survey and critique the earlier scholarship on the two-draft theory. Syme supported the two-draft theory; Lindsay suggested multiple layers of composition over a prolonged period. Dueck and Pothecary reject the two-draft theory and support composition of a single draft written in real time.


Pais (1890 339; 1908398-399) used Strabo’s statement to support the two-draft theory dating the putative first draft around 7 bce. Strabo’s statement will remain true until 17 ce so while not inconsistent with Pais’ putative date it does little to confirm it. Pais did not explain why Strabo’s statement was not emended in the putative second draft.


Magie 1950402 (with his nn. 76-77 on p. 1256) 418. Magie notes that Cibyra-Laodicia was returned to Asia at the same time.


Engels 2005.


Cassia 2000222modifying a suggestion in Pais 1890 359-360 and 1922 299 n. 1. Cassia’s suggestion came too late to be included in Pothecary 1999. Bowersock (2000 19) sees Cicero’s ‘Servilius Strabo’ as a member of the Roman Servilii one who may have been responsible for bringing Strabo to Rome. It is perhaps more probable given the tone of Cicero’s letter that ‘Servilius Strabo’ is an Asiatic Greek who has enjoyed the patronage of the Roman Servilii.


Pythodorus and Pythodoris: Bowersock 200018; Lindsay 2005 185 and 198-199.


Pais 1908418-419; Honigmann 1931 81; Engels 1999 31; Dueck 2000 18-19 24.



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