Pseudo-Skylax's Periplous

BookPseudo-Skylax's Periplous

Pseudo-Skylax's Periplous

The Circumnavigation of the Inhabited World: Text, Translation and Commentary


August 31st, 2019

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The text of the Periplous or 'circumnavigation' that survives under the name of Skylax of Karyanda is in fact by an unknown author of the 4th century BC. It describes the coasts of the Mediterranean and Black Sea, naming hundreds of towns with geographical features such as rivers, harbours and mountains. But, argues Graham Shipley, it is not the record of a voyage or a navigational handbook for sailors. It is, rather, the first work of Greek theoretical geography, written in Athens at a time of intellectual ferment and intense speculation about the nature and dimensions of the inhabited world. While other scientists were gathering data about natural science and political systems or making rapid advances in philosophy, rhetorical theory, and cosmology, the unknown author collected data about the structure of the lands bordering the seas known to the Greeks, and compiled sailing distances and times along well-frequented routes. His aim was probably nothing less ambitious than to demonstrate the size of the inhabited world of the Greeks. This is the first full edition of the Periplous for over 150 years, and includes a newly revised Greek text and specially produced maps along with the first complete English translation. Interest in ancient geographical writings has never been so strong, yet many of the key texts are inaccessible to those who do not read Greek. With its relatively limited vocabulary and simple, yet varied, syntax, it will provide a useful text for those moving beyond the elementary study of ancient Greek language. In this fully reset second edition, the introduction is expanded to include a section on the late-antique geographer Markianos, and updates incorporated into both the Introduction and Commentary.

‘Stylishly produced and generously illustrated . . . succeeds in presenting a fresh and sympathetic assessment . . . at the same time making this obscure text more widely accessible . . . will become a standard reference tool.’
M. Woolmer, Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 2012

‘. . . offers a wealth of geographical, ethnographical and historical information . . . strikes a happy balance between introductory remarks and depth of coverage . . . Through the scholarly weight of his commentary and his clear presentation of the text and its issues, Shipley has succeeded in making the Periplous accessible and relevant, while setting the bar high for future editions of ancient geographers. . . . Shipley's masterly new edition makes the text available to classicists and historians interested in Mediterranean geography and in intellectual pursuits in the late Greek classical era.’
F. Racine, Classical Review 63, 1 (2013)

'Shipley has produced a most valuable edition of a hitherto little-read text. He encourages sympathetic and productive engagement with an enigmatic work that spans different intellectual, historical and geographical contexts. In this, he has done a service not only to the unknown author of the text, but also to those who are interested in the history of the Mediterranean world, the intellectual milieu of the fourth century BC and the geographical tradition.’
K. Clarke, Journal of Hellenic Studies (2013)

'The introduction, concise and clear, establishes the dossier of information available about the Period of the inhabited earth, all highlighting the gaps in our knowledge. [...] Philologists, historians of Antiquity in general and ancient geography in particular will certainly be delighted to have a pseudo-Skylax, faithfully restored, translated and commented on.'
Monique Mund-Dopchie, L'antiquité classique (Translated from French)

Author Information

Graham Shipley is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Leicester. His work concentrates in the Late Classical and Hellenistic periods, and its main geographical focuses have been, first, the island of Samos and, more recently, the Peloponnese (especially Sparta and Laconia). He is a former Chair of the Council of University Classical Departments (CUCD) and of the British School at Athens Sparta and Laconia Committee. His many publications include The Greek World after Alexander: 323–30 BC (2000), shortlisted for the Runciman Prize in 2001, and The Early Hellenistic Peloponnese: Politics, Economies, and Networks, 338–197 BC (2018).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Symbols and special abbreviations12
Select Apparatus Criticus235
Works cited246
Select index262