Strabo Biography

Strabo, a Greek geographer and historian from over two thousand years ago, was a member of a prestigious family and received an exceptional education. After meeting influential figures in Rome, he obtained Roman citizenship and embarked on extensive travels throughout Egypt and the surrounding region. Returning to Rome, Strabo dedicated his life to studying and documenting the historical and physical aspects of the world he knew. His renowned work, ‘Geographica’, provided a comprehensive depiction of the topography, politics, and widely accepted understanding of the Earth during the reign of Augustus. This valuable collection of facts offers a remarkable insight into the world as perceived by knowledgeable individuals in the Augustan Age.

Quick Facts

  • Died At Age: 87
  • Died on: 24
  • Historians
  • Geographers

Childhood & Early Life

Strabo was born in 64 or 63 BC into a wealthy and affluent family. He received his education under the guidance of Aristodemus, a rhetorician at Nysa in Caria. Aristodemus had previously tutored the sons of Pompey. In 44 BC, Strabo moved to Rome to study with geographer Tyrannion and philosopher Xenarchus. He also met philosopher Athenodorus Cananites, who introduced him to Stoicism and influenced him to convert.


Strabo visited Rome again in 35 BC and stayed there until 31 BC, during which he wrote his first major work, ‘Historical Sketches’. Unfortunately, this work is now lost, with only a few quotations remaining. ‘Historical Sketches’ covered the history of the known world from 145 BC to the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. Strabo intended it to be an extension of Polybius’s Histories.

Strabo continued to travel extensively. In 31 BC, he visited Crete, and in 29 BC, he toured through Corinth, Greece, where Augustus was staying. He also visited the island of Gyaros in the Aegean Sea. From 25 to 20 BC, he spent five years in Alexandria, possibly studying at the great library. Around 25 or 24 BC, he sailed up the Nile with Marcus Aelius Gallus, the Roman governor. In 17 AD, he attended the victory of Germanicus Caesar in Rome. From 14 AD to 21 AD, he compiled his second major work, ‘Geographical Sketches’ or ‘Geographica’. This was his last major work before his death a couple of years later.

Major Works

Strabo’s ‘Geographica’ consists of 17 books and was compiled between 14 AD and 21 AD. Some parts may have been written earlier. The books have survived completely, except for the end of book seven. In ‘Geographica’, Strabo pointed out errors in the map designed by Eratosthenes and appreciated the work of Polybius. He also sourced information from other scholars such as Poseidonius, Artemidorus, and Apollodorus of Athens. His ‘Historical Sketches’ covered the history of the Greco-Roman world and originally consisted of 43 books.

Personal Life & Legacy

Strabo traveled extensively, from Armenia to Tuscany and from the Black Sea to the frontiers of Ethiopia. He died around 24 AD, leaving behind a wealth of historical and geographical knowledge.

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