I have been trying to make some sense of the geographical place names listed by Meliboeus at Eclogue 1.64-66. In his commentary, Page suggests that they constitute the 4 points of the compass: North (Scythia), East (Oaxes), South (Africans) and West (Britons).

This took me somewhat by surprise. According to modern cartography, from an Italian perspective Britain would be closer to North (or North-West), Scythia East (or North East) and the Africans South (or South West). [Since Page uses his schema to argue for the river Oaxes lying somewhere in the far east, I'll pass over it here].

Presumably, Page knew what he was talking about, so can anyone enlighten me about ancient cartographic conventions - and not least whether Britain really was believed to lie to the west and Scythia to the north?

Obviously, what interests me most is why Meliboeus lists these particular places here. Any thoughts would be most welcome (and does anyone now believe that the Oaxes could lie in Crete?).



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