Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 16.1.14 Str. 16.1.18 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 16.1.21


In former times the capital of Assyria was Babylon; it is now called Seleuceia upon the Tigris. Near it is a large village called Ctesiphon. This the Parthian kings usually made their winter residence, with a view to spare the Seleucians the burden of furnishing quarters for the Scythian soldiery. In consequence of the power of Parthia, Ctesiphon [Note] may be considered as a city rather than a village; from its size it is capable of lodging a great multitude of people; it has been adorned with public buildings by the Parthians, and has furnished merchandise, and given rise to arts profitable to its masters.

The kings usually passed the winter there, on account of the salubrity of the air, and the summer at Ecbatana and in Hyrcania, [Note] induced by the ancient renown of these places.

As we call the country Babylonia, so we call the people Babylonians, not from the name of the city, but of the country; the case is not precisely the same, however, as regards even natives of Seleuceia, as, for instance, Diogenes, the stoic philosopher [who had the appellation of the Babylonian, and not the Seleucian]. [Note] 16.1.17

At the distance of 500 stadia from Seleuceia is Artemita, a considerable city, situated nearly directly to the east, which is the position also of Sitacene. [Note] This extensive and fertile tract of country lies between Babylon and Susiana, so that the whole road in travelling from Babylon to Susa passes through Sitacene. The road from Susa [Note] into the interior of Persis, through the territory of the Uxii, [Note] and from Persis into the middle of Carmania, [Note] leads also towards the east.

Persis, which is a large country, encompasses Carmania on the [west] [Note] and north. Close to it adjoin Parætacene, [Note] and

-- 153 --

the Cossæan territory as far as the Caspian Gates, inhabited by mountainous and predatory tribes. Contiguous to Susiana is Elymaïs, a great part of which is rugged, and inhabited by robbers. To Elymaïs adjoin the country about the Zagrus [Note] and Media. [Note] 16.1.18

The Cossæi, like the neighbouring mountaineers, are for the most part archers, and are always out on foraging parties. For as they occupy a country of small extent, and barren, they are compelled by necessity to live at the expense of others. They are also necessarily powerful, for they are all fighting men. When the Elymæi were at war with the Babylonians and Susians, they supplied the Elymæi with thirteen thousand auxiliaries.

The Parætaceni attend to the cultivation of the ground more than the Cossæi, but even these people do not abstain from robbery.

The Elymæi occupy a country larger in extent, and more varied, than that of the Parætaceni. The fertile part of it is inhabited by husbandmen. The mountainous tract is a nursery for soldiers, the greatest part of whom are archers. As it is of considerable extent, it can furnish a great military force; their king, who possesses great power, refuses to be subject, like others, to the king of Parthia. The country was similarly independent in the time of the Persians, and afterwards [Note] in the time of the Macedonians, who governed Syria. When Antiochus the Great attempted to plunder the temple of Belus, the neighbouring barbarians, unassisted, attacked and put him to death. In after-times the king of Parthia [Note] heard that the temples in their country contained great wealth, but knowing that the people would not submit, and admonished by the fate of Antiochus, he invaded their country with a large army; he took the temple of Minerva, and that of Diana, called Azara, and carried away treasure to the amount of 10,000

-- 154 --

talents. Seleuceia also, a large city on the river Hedyphon, [Note] was taken. It was formerly called Soloce.

There are three convenient entrances into this country; one from Media and the places about the Zagrus, through Massabatice; a second from Susis, through the district Gabiane. Both Gabiane and Massabatice are provinces of Elymæa. A third passage is that from Persis. Corbiane also is a province of Elymaïs.

Sagapeni and Silaceni, small principalities, border upon Elymaïs.

Such, then, is the number and the character of the nations situated above Babylonia towards the east.

We have said that Media and Armenia lie to the north, and Adiabene and Mesopotamia to the west of Babylonia. 16.1.19

The greatest part of Adiabene consists of plains, and, although it is a portion of Babylon, has its own prince. In some places it is contiguous to Armenia. [Note] For the Medes, Armenians, and Babylonians, the three greatest nations in these parts, were from the first in the practice, on convenient opportunities, of waging continual war with each other, and then making peace, which state of things continued till the establishment of the Parthian empire.

The Parthians subdued the Medes and Babylonians, but never at any time conquered the Armenians. They made frequent inroads into their country, but the people were not subdued, and Tigranes, as I have mentioned in the description of Armenia, [Note] opposed them with great vigour and success.

Such is the nature of Adiabene. The Adiabeni are also called Saccopodes. [Note]

We shall describe Mesopotamia and the nations towards

-- 155 --

the south, after premising a short account of the customs of the Assyrians.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 16.1.14 Str. 16.1.18 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 16.1.21

Powered by PhiloLogic