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Journal Article

Strabo, the Tiberian Author: Past, Present and Silence in Strabo's "Geography"

Sarah Pothecary
Mnemosyne
Fourth Series, Vol. 55, Fasc. 4 (2002), pp. 387-438
Published by: Brill
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4433351
Page Count: 52

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Topics: Geography, Written composition, Literature, War, Governors, Emperors, Sons, Writing, Thrones, Upper houses
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Strabo, the Tiberian Author: Past, Present and Silence in Strabo's "Geography"
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Abstract

References in the text suggest that Strabo started writing the manuscript of the "Geography" in AD 17 or 18 and finished it in AD 23. Events current at that time affect Strabo's handling of his material. Three particular instances are explored in detail. First, Strabo makes no reference to Germanicus after describing his triumph of AD 17. Germanicus was well known for his subsequent settlement of affairs in Armenia, Cappadocia and Commagene in AD 18. Strabo mentions all three of these settlements, but does not ascribe them to any one person and thus does not mention Germanicus in connection with them. Strabo's silence reflects Tiberius' wish that Germanicus, who died in AD 19, should not be glorified after his death. Secondly, the overthrow and submission of the German king, Maroboduus, in AD 18-19 explain why Strabo mentions Maroboduus by name and provides details of this king's early life, even though Strabo makes no specific reference to the controversial events surrounding Maroboduus' submission, the outcome of which may not have yet been apparent as Strabo was writing. Thirdly, the Parthian Vonones is mentioned so obliquely that some scholars have ststed that Starbo is completely silent about him. This is not so, but the disastrous consequences under Tiberius of the Roman effort under Augustus to restore Vonones to the Parthian throne explain why Vonones is topical enough to get mentioned, and at the same time why Vonones is topical enough to get mentioned, and at the same time why he is mentioned in so circumspect a fashion. In conclusion, Strabo's oblique treatment of current events suggests that he is averse to dealing with contemporary and often unresolved matters, and is consistent with his preference for information of a historical and cultural nature.

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