Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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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. 11.11.5

Aristobulus calls the river, which runs through Sogdiana, Polytimetus, a name imposed by the Macedonians, as they imposed many others, some of which were altogether new, others were deflections [Note] from the native appellations. This river after watering the country flows through a desert and sandy soil, and is absorbed in the sand, like the Arius, which flows through the territory of the Arii.

It is said that on digging near the river Ochus a spring of oil was discovered. It is probable, that as certain nitrous, astringent, bituminous, and sulphurous fluids permeate the earth, greasy fluids may be found, but the rarity of their occurrence makes their existence almost doubtful.

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The course of the Ochus, according to some writers, is through Bactriana, according to others parallel to it. Some allege that, taking a more southerly direction, it is distinct from the Oxus to its mouths, but that they both discharge themselves (separately) into the Caspian in Hyrcania. Others again say that it is distinct, at its commencement, from the Oxus, but that it (afterwards) unites with the latter river, having in many places a breadth of six or seven stadia.

The Iaxartes is distinct from the Oxus from its commencement to its termination, and empties itself into the same sea. Their mouths, according to Patrocles, are about 80 parasangs distant from each other. The Persian parasang some say contains 60, others 30 or 40, stadia.

When I was sailing up the Nile, schœni of different measures were used in passing from one city to another, so that the same number of schœni gave in some places a longer, in others a shorter, length to the voyage. This mode of computation has been handed down from an early period, and is continued to the present time. 11.11.6

In proceeding from Hyrcania towards the rising sun as far as Sogdiana, the nations beyond (within?) the Taurus were known first to the Persians, and afterwards to the Macedonians and Parthians. The nations lying in a straight line [Note] above these people are supposed to be Scythian, from their resemblance to that nation. But we are not acquainted with any expeditions which have been undertaken against them, nor against the most northerly tribes of the nomades. Alexander proposed to conduct his army against them, when he was in pursuit of Bessus and Spitamenes, but when Bessus was taken prisoner, and Spitamenes put to death by the Barbarians, he desisted from executing his intention.

It is not generally admitted, that persons have passed round by sea from India to Hyrcania, but Patrocles asserts that it may be done. 11.11.7

It is said that the termination of Taurus, which is called Imaus, approaches close to the Indian Sea, and neither advances towards nor recedes from the East more than India itself. But on passing to the northern side, the sea contracts (throughout the whole coast) the length and breadth of India, so as to shorten on the East the portion of Asia we are now

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describing, comprehended between the Taurus and the Northern Ocean, which forms the Caspian Sea.

The greatest length of this portion, reckoned from the Hyrcanian Sea to the (Eastern) Ocean opposite Imaus, is about 30,000 stadia, [Note] the route being along the mountainous tract of Taurus; the breadth is less than 10,000 stadia. [Note] We have said before, that [Note] from the bay of Issus to the eastern sea along the coast of India is about 40,000 stadia, and to Issus from the western extremities at the pillars 30,000 stadia. The recess of the bay of Issus is little, if at all, more to the east than Amisus; from Amisus to Hyrcania is about 10,000 stadia in a line parallel to that which we have described as drawn from the bay of Issus to India. There remains therefore for the portion now delineated the above-mentioned length towards the east, namely, 30,000 stadia. [Note]



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.10.2 Str. 11.11.6 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.11.5

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