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Scylax of Caryanda

Scylax of Caryanda

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Scylax of Caryanda
Caryanda was an ancient city on the coast of Caria in southwestern Anatolia.Caryanda was situated on a bay on the north coast of the Bodrum Peninsula in what is today the Turkish tourist resort town of Turkbuku. Greek geographer Strabo mentions Caryanda as being between the Carian coastal cities...

was a renowned Caria
Caria was a region of western Anatolia extending along the coast from mid-Ionia south to Lycia and east to Phrygia. The Ionian and Dorian Greeks colonized the west of it and joined the Carian population in forming Greek-dominated states there...

n explorer
Exploration is the act of searching or traveling around a terrain for the purpose of discovery of resources or information. Exploration occurs in all non-sessile animal species, including humans...

 and writer of the 6th and 5th centuries BCE.

Exploration and literary works

In about 515 BCE, Scylax was sent by King Darius I of Persia
Darius I of Persia
Darius I , also known as Darius the Great, was the third king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire...

 to follow the course of the Indus River
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

 and discover where it led. Scylax and his companions set out from city of Caspatyrus in Gandara
Gandara may refer to:People:*Raúl Gándara-Cartagena, long-time Ponce fire chiefPlaces:*Gandara, Samar, a Philippine municipality*Gandara, Buenos Aires, a village in Chascomús Partido, Argentina*Gándara, a river in Cantabria, Spain...

, in today's Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

. Scylax sailed down the river until he found it reached the sea. He then sailed west across Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

 until he arrived at the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

, which he also explored. He travelled as far as the Red Sea's western end at Suez
Suez is a seaport city in north-eastern Egypt, located on the north coast of the Gulf of Suez , near the southern terminus of the Suez Canal, having the same boundaries as Suez governorate. It has three harbors, Adabya, Ain Sokhna and Port Tawfiq, and extensive port facilities...

, before returning to report to Darius I. His entire journey took thirty months.

Scylax also recorded information he knew about cities on the islands of the Mediterranean, including Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

. He was one of the first to mention the city of Kydonia on western Crete. Scylax was famous in the ancient world. He is mentioned by Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

 as an "ancient writer." According to the Suda
The Suda or Souda is a massive 10th century Byzantine encyclopedia of the ancient Mediterranean world, formerly attributed to an author called Suidas. It is an encyclopedic lexicon, written in Greek, with 30,000 entries, many drawing from ancient sources that have since been lost, and often...

, he also wrote (perhaps "in the decades around 480 B.C.") a life of his contemporary, Heraclides of Mylasa (τὰ κατὰ Ἡρακλείδην τὸν Μυλασσῶν βασιλέα), who is mentioned in Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...


The Periplus of Pseudo-Scylax
Periplus of Pseudo-Scylax
The Periplus of Pseudo-Scylax is an ancient Greek periplus that ranks among the minor Greek geographers, dating from 4th or 3rd century BC. The name of Scylax applied to the text is thought to be a pseudepigraphical appeal to authority: Herodotus mentions a Scylax of Caryanda, a Greek navigator...

, which dates from the 3rd century BCE, is a compilation apparently named in his honour.

In popular culture

  • In the historical fiction novel Creation
    Creation (novel)
    Creation is an epic historical fiction novel by Gore Vidal which was published in 1981. In 2002, he published a restored version, adding four chapters that a previous editor had cut...

    by Gore Vidal
    Gore Vidal
    Gore Vidal is an American author, playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and political activist. His third novel, The City and the Pillar , outraged mainstream critics as one of the first major American novels to feature unambiguous homosexuality...

     Scylax of Caryanda appears as a character who is on such familiar terms with King Darius I of Persia that they engage in humorous banter about extending Persian rule to India.

Ancient sources

  • Herodotus, Histories
    Histories (Herodotus)
    The Histories of Herodotus is considered one of the seminal works of history in Western literature. Written from the 450s to the 420s BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that...

    , 4.44
  • Aristotle
    Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

    , Politics
    Politics (Aristotle)
    Aristotle's Politics is a work of political philosophy. The end of the Nicomachean Ethics declared that the inquiry into ethics necessarily follows into politics, and the two works are frequently considered to be parts of a larger treatise, or perhaps connected lectures, dealing with the...

    , 7.13.2
  • Suda, s.v. Σκύλαξ

External links