Book Review – ‘Navigation et géographie dans l’antiquité greco-romaine’ by Jean-Marie Kowalski
Kowalski begins by discussing how the Greeks imagined the sea. It was the realm of pirates; it separated lovers, and nurtured shady merchants. Plato compared the Greeks to frogs never far from water and lamented the sea’s corrupting influence on Greek civilization. But Kowalski’s main purpose is to analyse the works of the Greek geographers rather than the writers who provided a metaphorical view of the sea. His chief source is Strabo (about 64 Bc–ad 24). Although Strabo’s main aim was to establish systematic geographic principles based on mathematics, he labelled Homer ‘the father of geography’ and assumed the Homeric epics were historical events from which geographical information could be gleaned. He attacked Eratosthenes (275–196 Bc) who eschewed myths as sources for geography….