Strabonis Rerum Geographicarum Libri XVII

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by Strabo

Strabo was a Greek citizen from a prominent family in Pontus, part of modern Turkey, who lived in Rome learning from both political and military leaders (ca. 64 BCE – ca. 23 CE). [1] He wrote a geography of the Greek and Roman world that is almost intact today in seventeen books. This work is Book 17 of those extant. In ancient times, geographies generally took one of two general focuses: the physical geography of an area (the cartography) or “world cultural geography” discussing the impacts of humans on the planet. Strabo’s geography falls into the latter category, while Ptolemy is well known for his work in the former. [2]

The fact that Strabo’s work On Geography or On Geographical Things was not translated into Arabic slowed its expansion and real recognition until the 1439 when the pope sought to breach the gap between the Eastern and Western Christian churches at a council in Florence. Strabo’s ideas were then combined with others’, including Ptolemy’s, to help form the scientific foundation for the Age of Discoveries and exploration. [3] After this, his work tended to attract the interest of classicists rather than geographers, a shift that relied partly on the belief of some that Strabo’s geographic details are incorrect. [4]

Bibliographic Information

Author: Strabo

Title: Strabonis Rerum Geographicarum Libri XVII

Publication Info: Lutetiae Parisiorum : Typis regiis, 1620.


Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as Strabo. Gr. Lat. fol. and given by Thomas Jefferson to his grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph. The precise edition owned by Wythe is unknown. George Wythe's Library[5] on LibraryThing indicates this without selecting a specific edition. The Brown Bibliography[6] lists the 1620 edition published in Paris based on the copy Jefferson sold to the Library of Congress.[7] The Wolf Law Library followed Brown's suggestion and purchased the Paris edition.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in contemporary, recased blind stamped calf. Boards feature elaborate tooling, spine has gilt lettering.

View this book in William & Mary's online catalog.

External Links

Google Books


  1. William A. Koelsch, “Squinting Back at Strabo,” Geographical Review 94, no. 4 (Oct. 2004): 503.
  2. Ibid, 502.
  3. Ibid, 504.
  4. Ibid, 504-05.
  5. LibraryThing, s. v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on November 13, 2013,
  6. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:
  7. E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 2nd ed. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1983), 4:86 [no.3820].