Homer was a ‘philosopher’ and ‘the first geographer’

Here we present and discuss two excerpts from Strabo that provide us with very interesting information about Homer.

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Strabo, A I 1 

In ancient Greek: «Της του φιλοσόφου πραγματείας είναι νομίζομεν, είπερ άλλην τινά, και την γεωγραφικήν…οι τε γαρ πρώτοι θαρρήσαντες αυτής άψασθαι τοιούτοι τινες υπήρξαν. Ομηρός τε και Αναξίμανδρος ο Μιλήσιος και Εκαταίος ο πολίτης αυτού, καθώς και Ερατοσθένης φησί, και Δημόκριτος δε και Εύδοξος και Δικαίαρχος και Έφορος και άλλοι πλείους. Έτι δε οι μετά τούτους, Ερατοσθένης τε και Πολύβιος και Ποσειδώνιος, άνδρες φιλόσοφοι»

In English: «We think that Geography, as every other science, it is the philosopher’s object…because the first who attempted touching this science were philosophers. Homer and Anaximander of Miletos and Hecataeus his fellow-citizen, as Heratosthenes also claims, and Democritus and Eudoxus and Dicaearchus and Ephorus and others claimed by other (writers). And after these ones, Heratosthenes, Polybius and Poseidonius, men philosophers»

Strabo, A I 11

In ancient Greek: « Νυνί δε ότι μεν Όμηρος της γεωγραφίας ήρξεν, αρκείτω τα λεχθέντα. Φανεροί δε και οι επακολουθήσαντες αυτώ άνδρες αξιόλογοι και οικείοι φιλοσοφίας, ων τους πρώτους μεθ’ Όμηρον δύο φησίν Ερατοσθένης, Αναξίμανδρον τε, Θαλού γεγονότα γνώριμον και πολίτην, και Εκαταίον τον Μιλήσιον. Τον μεν ουν εκδούναι πρώτον γεωγραφικόν πίνακα, τον δε Εκαταίον καταλιπείν γράμμα, πιστούμενον εκείνου είναι εκ της άλλης αυτού γραφής»

In English: «Now, as for the fact that Homer was the first geographer, what we’ve said so far is enough. The men who followed him are known, all of them worthy men and familiar to philosophy, of which two of them after Homer are claimed by Heratosthenes to have been Homer’s successors, Anaximander, who was a fellow-citizen and student of Thales, and Hecataeus from Miletos. Anaximander was the first to publish a geographical board (map), while Hecataeus has left a (geographical) book, that we know it is his because it resembles to the writing of his other works (books)»

NovoScriptorium: We are informed here that the Philosopher is actually a Scientist. And he deals with all kinds of Science, including Geography mentioned a lot here. Strabo clearly refers to Homer as ‘philosopher’ in the first excerpt. Our many years of study have shown exactly this; Homer was indeed a philosopher, dealing with all kinds of Science. And not only he was followed by the latter philosophers, but whole philosophical schools were actually based on Homeric ideas. We are convinced that Homer and the proper study of his work constitute one of the most important keys for understanding Greek Thinking in depth and through time. We should not forget that throughout Classical, Hellenistic and Graeco-Roman Antiquity, Homer’s study was considered a ‘must‘ for every person that wished to count himself among the ‘educated‘ men of the society. And that this continued during the times of the Christian Roman Empire; Homer constituted one of the bases of youngsters’ Education until 1453 AD.

Not surprisingly, we see that the ancient Greeks themselves, like Strabo here, considered Homer as the first geographer; he was generally considered/believed to have had the primacy of many -if not all- Sciences. Our comparative study definetly indicates and certifies this as a ‘fact‘.

Another interesting information we receive is that Anaximander was the first to write and publish a map (of the World; it is not clearly stated here, but we know it from other ancient sources, Agathemeros, A 1 and Schol. Dion. Perieg., 428 7).

For the interested reader: we have already posted a number of articles on Homer (‘Philosophy‘ section) and we are enthusiastic to continue with many more in the future, strongly believing that ‘Knowledge must be shared’.

Isidoros Aggelos

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