Article

Ethiopia

Robert G. Morkot

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics


Published online December 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780199381135 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.013.2504

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Ethiopia was a name usually applied by the Greeks to any region in the far south (but north of the equator). Perhaps originally designating radiance reflected by dwellers in the east from the morning star, it soon came to mean the land of the ‘Burnt-faced People’. An ethnic connotation is found already in *Homer (Od. 1. 22 etc. ), and as geographical knowledge increased a distinction was made between western and eastern Ethiopians. Early Greek interest in Ethiopia was largely concerned with the source of the *Nile. Ethiopia was favoured by the gods, and hence has an important place in utopian literature. From Herodotus onwards Ethiopia designated especially the lands south of Egypt comprising most of the modern states of Sudan and Ethiopia, the ancient Kush, *Meroe, and Aksum. Ethiopians formed contingents in the Persian army during *Xerxes' invasion of Greece (Hdt. 7. 70) and Greeks visited Ethiopia from the 6th cent. bce onwards.

Article.  287 words. 

Subjects: Historical Geography ; Middle Eastern History

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