Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.1.1 Str. 11.1.7 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.2.5


In passing in our geographical description from Europe to Asia, the first parts of the country which present themselves are those in the northern division, and we shall therefore begin with these.

Of these parts the first are those about the Tanaïs, (or Don,) which we have assumed as the boundary of Europe and Asia. These have a kind of peninsular form, for they are surrounded on the west by the river Tanaïs (or Don) and the Palus Maotis [Note] as far as the Cimmerian Bosporus, [Note] and that part of the coast of the Euxine which terminates at Colchis; on the north by the Ocean, as far as the mouth of the Caspian Sea; on the east by the same sea, as far as the

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confines of Albania and Armenia, where the rivers Cyrus [Note] and Araxes [Note] empty themselves; the latter flowing through Armenia, and the Cyrus through Iberia [Note] and Albania; [Note] on the south is the tract of country extending from the mouth of the Cyrus as far as Colchis, and comprising about 3000 stadia from sea to sea, across the territory of the Albani, and Iberes, [Note] so as to represent an isthmus. [Note]

Those writers do not deserve attention who contract the isthmus as much as Cleitarchus, according to whom it is subject to inundations of the sea from either side. According to Posidonius the isthmus is 1500 stadia in extent, that is, as large as the isthmus from Pelusium to the Red Sea. And I think, says he, that the isthmus between the Palus Mæotis and the Ocean is not very different from this in extent. 11.1.6

I know not how any one can rely upon his authority respecting what is uncertain, when he has nothing probable to advance on the subject; for he reasons so falsely respecting things which are evident, and this too when he enjoyed the friendship of Pompey, who had carried on war against the Iberes and Albani, and was acquainted with both the Caspian and Colchian [Note] Seas on each side of the isthmus. It is related, that when Pompey [Note] was at Rhodes, on his expedi- tion against the pirates, (he was soon afterwards to carry on war against Mithridates and the nations as far as the Caspian Sea,) he accidentally heard a philosophical lecture of Posidonius; and on his departure he asked Posidonius if he had any commands; to which he replied,

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To stand the first in worth, as in command. [Note]
Il. vi. 208. Pope.
Add to this, that he wrote the history of Pompey. For these reasons he ought to have paid a greater regard to truth. 11.1.7

The second portion is that above the Hyrcanian, [Note] which we also call the Caspian Sea, extending as far as the Scythians near the Indians.

The third portion is continuous with the above-mention- ed isthmus, and consists of the country following next in order to the isthmus and the Caspian Gates, [Note] and approaching nearest the parts within the Taurus, and to Europe; these are Media, Armenia, Cappadocia, and the intervening country. [Note]

The fourth portion consists of the tract within the Halys, [Note] and the parts upon and without the Taurus, which coincide with the peninsula formed by the isthmus, [Note] which separates the Euxine and the Cilician Seas. Among the other countries beyond the Taurus we place Indica and Ariana, [Note] as far

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as the nations which extend to the Persian Sea, the Arabian Gulf, and the Nile, and to the ægyptian and the Issic seas.

CHAPTER II. 11.2.1

ACCORDING to this disposition, the first portion towards the north and the Ocean is inhabited by certain tribes of Scythians, shepherds, (nomades,) and Hamaxœci (or those who live in waggon-houses). Within these tribes live Sarmatians, who also are Scythians, Aorsi, [Note] and Siraci, extending as far as the Caucasian Mountains towards the south. Some of these are Nomades, or shepherd tribes, others Scenitæ, (or dwellers in tents,) and Georgi, or tillers of the ground. About the lake Mæotis live the Mœotæ. Close to the sea is the Asiatic portion of the Bosporus and Sindica. [Note] Next follow Achæi, Zygi, Heniochi, [Note] Cercetæ, and Macropogones (or the longbeards). Above these people are situated the passes of the Phtheirophagi (or Lice-eaters). After the Heniochi is Colchis, lying at the foot of the Caucasian and Moschic mountains. Having assumed the Tanaïs as the boundary of Europe and Asia, we must begin our description in detail from this river.

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2. The Tanaïs or Don flows from the northern parts. It does not however flow in a direction diametrically opposite to the Nile, as some suppose, but its course is more to the east than that of the latter river; its sources, like those of the Nile, are unknown. A great part of the course of the Nile is apparent, for it traverses a country the whole of which is easy of access, and its stream is navigable to a great distance from its mouth. We are acquainted with the mouths of the Don, (there are two in the most northerly parts of the Mæotis, distant 60 stadia from each other,) but a small part only of the tract above the mouths is explored, on account of the severity of the cold, and the destitute state of the country; the natives are able to endure it, who subsist, like the wandering shepherd tribes, on the flesh of their animals and on milk, but strangers cannot bear the climate nor its privations. Besides, the nomades dislike intercourse with other people, and being a strong and numerous tribe have excluded travellers from every part of the country which is accessible, and from all such rivers as are navigable. For this reason some have supposed that the sources of the river are among the Caucasian mountains, that, after flowing in a full stream towards the north, it then makes a bend, and discharges itself into the Mæotis. Theophanes [Note] of Mitylene is of the same opinion with these writers. Others suppose that it comes from the higher parts of the Danube, but they do not produce any proof of so remote a source, and in other climates, though they seem to think it impossible for it to rise at no great distance and in the north.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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