Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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11.10.1

ARIA and Margiana, which are the best districts in this portion of Asia, are partly composed of valleys enclosed by

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mountains, and partly of inhabited plains. Some tribes of Seenitæ (dwellers in tents) occupy the mountains; the plains are watered by the rivers Arius and by the Margus.

Aria borders upon Bactriana, and the mountain [Note] which has Bactriana at its foot. It is distant from [the] Hyrcania[n sea] about 6000 stadia.

Drangiana as far as Carmania furnished jointly with Aria payment of the tribute. The greater part of this country is situated at the foot of the southern side of the mountains; some tracts however approach the northern side opposite Aria.

Arachosia, which belongs to the territory of Aria, is not far distant; it lies at the foot of the southern side of the mountains, and extends to the river Indus.

The length of Aria is about 2000 stadia, and the breadth of the plain 300 stadia. Its cities are Artacaëna, Alexandreia, and Achaia, which are called after the names of their founders.

The soil produces excellent wines, which may be kept for three generations in unpitched vessels. 11.10.2

Margiana is like this country, but the plain is surrounded by deserts. Antiochus Soter admired its fertility; he enclosed a circle of 1500 stadia with a wall, and founded a city, Antiocheia. The soil is well adapted to vines. They say that a vine stem has been frequently seen there which would require two men to girth it, and bunches of grapes two cubits in size.

CHAPTER XI. 11.11.1

SOME parts of Bactria lie along Aria to the north, but the greater part stretches beyond (Aria) to the east. It is an extensive country, and produces everything except oil.

The Greeks who occasioned its revolt became so powerful by means of the fertility and advantages of the country, that they became masters of Ariana and India, according to Apollodorus of Artamita. Their chiefs, particularly Menander, (if he really crossed the Hypanis to the east and reached Isamus,) [Note] conquered more nations than Alexander. These

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conquests were achieved partly by Menander, partly by De metrius, son of Euthydemus, king of the Bactrians. They got possession not only of Pattalene, [Note] but of the kingdoms of Saraostus, and Sigerdis, which constitute the remainder of the coast. Apollodorus in short says that Bactriana is the ornament of all Ariana. They extended their empire even as far as the Seres and Phryni. 11.11.2

Their cities were Bactra, which they call also Zariaspa, (a river of the same name flows through it, and empties itself into the Oxus,) and Darapsa, [Note] and many others. Among these was Eucratidia, which had its name from Eucratidas, the king. When the Greeks got possession of the country, they divided it into satrapies; that of Aspionus and Turiva [Note] the Parthians took from Eucratidas. They possessed Sogdiana also, situated above Bactriana to the east, between the river Oxus (which bounds Bactriana and Sogdiana) and the Iaxartes; the latter river separates the Sogdii and the nomades. 11.11.3

Anciently the Sogdiani and Bactriani did not differ much from the nomades in their mode of life and manners, yet the manners of the Bactriani were a little more civilized. Onesicritus however does not give the most favourable account of this people. Those who are disabled by disease or old age are thrown alive to be devoured by dogs kept expressly for this purpose, and whom in the language of the country they call entombers. [Note] The places on the exterior of the walls of the capital of the Bactrians are clean, but the interior is for the most part full of human bones. Alexander abolished this custom. Something of the same kind is related of the Caspii also, who, when their parents have attained the age of 70 years, confine them, and let them die of hunger. This custom, although Scythian in character, is more tolerable than that of the Bactrians, and is similar to the domestic law of the Cei; [Note] the custom however of the Bactrians is much more according to Scythian manners. We may be justly at a loss

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to conjecture, [Note] if Alexander found such customs prevailing there, what were the customs which probably were observed by them in the time of the first kings of Persia, and of the princes who preceded them. 11.11.4

Alexander, it is said, founded eight cities in Bactriana and Sogdiana; some he razed, among which were Cariatæ in Bactriana, where Callisthenes was seized and imprisoned; Maracanda in Sogdiana, and Cyra, the last of the places founded by Cyrus, situated upon the river Iaxartes, and the boundary of the Persian empire. This also, although it was attached to Cyrus, he razed on account of its frequent revolts.

Alexander took also, it is said, by means of treachery, strong fortified rocks; one of which belonged to Sisimithres in Bactriana, where Oxyartes kept his daughter Roxana; another to Oxus in Sogdiana, or, according to some writers, to Ariamazas. The stronghold of Sisimithres is described by historians to have been fifteen stadia in height, and eighty stadia in circuit. On the summit is a level ground, which is fertile and capable of maintaining 500 men. Here Alexander was entertained with sumptuous hospitality, and here he espoused Roxana the daughter of Oxyartes. The height of the fortress in Sogdiana is double the height of this. It was near these places that he destroyed the city of the Branchidæ, whom Xerxes settled there, and who had voluntarily accompanied him from their own country. They had delivered up to the Persians the riches of the god at Didymi, and the treasure there deposited. Alexander destroyed their city in abhorrence of their treachery and sacrilege.



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