The Fathers of Geography

Who is the Father of Geography? That depends on who you ask. In this article, I explore the various answers to that question.

I ran the following terms through the Google Ngram Viewer and did my best to review as many of the sources as possible:
1 – father of geography (through 2019)
2 – Father of Geography (through 2014)

The Fathers of Geography

Names:
1 – Homer (7 BCE)
2 – Eratosthenes (1832)
3 – Strabo (1907)
4 – Anaximander (1966)
5 – Hecataeus (1925)
6 – Herodotus (1935)

Homer

Homer was first called the father of geography in Book 1, Chapter 1, Part 11 of Strabo’s Geography.[2]

1711 – “…a Poet, allowed by all the Ancient Geographers as the Father of Geography…”[16, p.100]

1810 – “Strabo, in the first book of his geography, cites from Homer, whom he calls the father of geography, a passage which describes the climate of the western part of Europe.”[1, p.47]

1846 – “…Homer must, as we have already observed, be regarded as the father of geography…”[4, p.471]

2004 – “Among the Greek scholars Homer is accepted as the father of geography.”[10, p.11]

Eratosthenes

1832 – “…Eratosthenes, the true father of geography…”[3, p.245]

1870 – “…Eratosthenes, the father of geography…”[17, p.23]

2011 – “…the Greek mathematician, philosopher, and poet Eratosthenes of Syene … is deservedly considered as “the father of geography”…”[13, p.429]

Strabo

1907 – “Any sketch of ancient geography would be incomplete without mention of Strabo (about 54 B.C.-21 A.D.) who is sometimes called the “father of geography.””[19, p.270]

2012 – “…the father of geography, Strabo…”[11, p.688]

Anaximander

1966 – “Anaximander, … is often credited with the distinction of being the inventor of maps, so entitling him to the appellation Father of Geography…”[6, p.3]

Hecataeus

1925 – “About eighty years later came Hecataeus, who has been called the Father of Geography, because he wrote down all the things that were known about the world…”[7, p.9]

1927 – “To him the term “Father of Geography” is frequently applied…”[5, p.1]

1929 – “Thus Hecataeus (c. 500 B.C.), claimed by H. F. Tozer as the father of geography on account of his general treatise of the earth, did not advance beyond the primitive conception of a circular disc.”[21, p.145] I think Tozer was publishing in the late 19th century but I’m not sure which work of his specifically refers to Hecataeus as the father of geography. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s in “A History of Ancient Geography”.

2002 – “Hecataeus gave first systematic description of the world by writing Ges Periods (description of the earth) due to which he is known as the father of Geography.”[12, p.1]

Herodotus

1935 – “Yet another famous Greek was Herodotus of Halicarnassus, who lived in the fifth century B.C. He is usually called the Father of History, but he ought to be called the Father of Geography as well…”[15, p.26]

1969 – “Herodotus of Halicarnassus is often called the father of history, as well as the father of geography…”[14, p.8]

2007 – “Herodotus, who is considered the father of history, is also claimed as the father of geography.”[9, p.23]

2017 – “Herodotus, claimed as the father of both anthropology and history, … might reasonably be claimed as the father of geography too.”[8, p.2817]

Richard Eden

1930 – I think Richard Eden was named as the father of geography but I’m not sure because I haven’t been able to check the book.[20, p.265]

Unknown

1854 – I think it’s either Stabo or Homer but I haven’t been able to confirm anyone yet.[18, p.10]

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References:

[1] – Noah Webster. “Contributions to V. 1 of the Memoirs of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences” (1810). https://www.google.com/books/edition/Contributions_to_V_1_of_the_Memoirs_of_t/hjUfAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.

[2] – http://www.gutenberg.org/files/44884/44884-h/44884-h.htm. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.

[3] – Julius Charles Hare. “The Philological Museum: Volumes 1-2” (1832). https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Philological_Museum/n3jzAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.

[4] – “The Athenaeum: Journal of Literature, Science and the Fine Arts” (1846). https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Athenaeum/jgVEAAAAcAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.

[5] – Ella Lucile Wood. “Development of the Modern Concept of Geography” (1927). https://www.google.com/books/edition/Development_of_the_Modern_Concept_of_Geo/wzhqAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.

[6] – Charles H. Cotter. “The Astronomical & Mathematical Foundations of Geography” (1966). https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Astronomical_Mathematical_Foundation/_CBKAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.

[7] – John Thomson Faris. “Real Stories of the Geography Makers” (1925). https://www.google.com/books/edition/Real_Stories_of_the_Geography_Makers/7xQOAQAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.

[8] – “The International Encyclopedia of Geography: A-B” (2017). https://www.google.com/books/edition/International_Encyclopedia_of_Geography/gfYoDwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.

[9] – Murray Low & Jennifer Robinson. “The SAGE Handbook of Political Geography” (2007). https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_SAGE_Handbook_of_Political_Geography/gpQcAXGLqPUC?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.

[10] – S.A. Qazi. “Principles of Physical Geography” (2004). https://www.google.com/books/edition/Principles_of_Physical_Geography/TXkdMyGF_wgC?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.

[11] – “21st Century Geography: A Reference Handbook: Volume 1” (2012). https://www.google.com/books/edition/21st_Century_Geography/7WrVewV6rOwC?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.

[12] – Nizamuddin Khan. “An Introduction to Physical Geography” (2002). https://www.google.com/books/edition/An_Introduction_to_Physical_Geography/U1T6y4KALbsC?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.

[13] – Dmitry Ya Fashchuk. “Marine Ecological Geography: Theory and Experience” (2011). https://www.google.com/books/edition/Marine_Ecological_Geography/B576PjBg0WYC?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.

[14] – Fischer, et al. “A Question of Place: The Development of Geographic Thought” (1969). https://www.google.com/books/edition/A_Question_of_Place/gysZAQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.

[15] – Margaret Whiting Spilhaus. “The Background of Geography” (1935). https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Background_of_Geography/89NJAQAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.

[16] – Nicolas Boileau Despréaux, Nicholas Rowe. “The Works of Monsieur Boileau: Volume 2” (1711). https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Works_of_Monsieur_Boileau/_XhZAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.

[17] – Theodor Mommsen, William Purdie Dickson. “The History of Rome: Volume 2” (1870). https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_History_of_Rome/HVZoAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.

[18] – Hans Claude Hamilton, William Falconer. “The Geography of Strabo: Volume 1” (1854). https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Geography_of_Strabo/huBQAQAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.

[19] – Willis E. Johnson. “Mathematical Geography” (1907). https://www.google.com/books/edition/Mathematical_Geography/tC-ZDwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.

[20] – Royal Geographical Society (Great Britain), Hugh Robert Mill. “The Record of the Royal Geographical Society, 1830-1930” (1930). https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Record_of_the_Royal_Geographical_Soc/3EssAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.

[21] – “The Encyclopedia Britannica: Volume 10” (1929). https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Encyclopedia_Britannica/pTp73Uu4_L4C?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.

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