Strabo’s use of Demetrios

The work of Demetrios of Scepsis is known to us mainly thanks to Strabo’s Geography. So our understanding of Demetrios’ achievement depends on the knowlegde we have of Strabo’s intentions and his way of using sources. In recent researches on Strabo, this aspect has been emphasized and they provide new facts about the Greek geographer.

One of the more striking features about Strabo is his combining of two rather different aspects in one work. On the one side, he is clearly a Greek scholar and he adopts a very Greek point of view, espacially when he is speaking about Greece and Asia Minor. On the other hand he is writing for a Roman audience. He spends some time in Rome, which is at this time one of the major center for scholars.

This doubleness of Strabo has been pointed out by A.M. Biraschi. She links Strabo’s reaction against Eratosthenes’ famous statment that poetry should aim to entertain rather than instruct (Str. 1.1.10 C 7) to a discussion found in Horace (AP, 333: aut prodesse volunt aut delectare poetae). Both authors, Biraschi goes on, react against Eratosthenes’ point of view and echo a cultural debat in Rome at this time.

So the question is: Why the researches of Demetrios were so useful for Strabo that he made this scholar one of his main sources? Is it his link to Pergamon, his Trojan origine, his particular position in regard to the location of Troy, his close reading of the Homeric texts?

See: A.M. Biraschi, Strabo and Homer: a chapter in cultural histroy, in D. Dueck et al. (eds.), Strabo’s Cultural Geography, Cambridge 2005

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