Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.12.5 Str. 11.13.7 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.14.1


The Cadusii have an army of foot soldiers not inferior in number to that of the Ariani. They are very expert in throwing the javelin. In the rocky places the soldiers engage in battle on foot, instead of on their horses. The expedition of Antony was harassing to the army, not by the nature of the country, but by the conduct of their guide, Artavasdes, king of the Armenii, whom Antony rashly made his adviser, and master of his intentions respecting the war, when at the same time that prince was contriving a plan for his destruction. Antony punished Artavasdes, but too late; the latter had been the cause of many calamities to the Romans, in conjunction with another person; he made the march from the Zeugma on the Euphrates to the borders of Atropatene to exceed 8000 stadia, or double the distance of the direct course, [by leading the army] over mountains, and places where there were no roads, and by a circuitous route.

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5. The Greater Media anciently governed the whole of Asia, after the overthrow of the Syrian empire: but afterwards, in the time of Astyages, the Medes were deprived of this extensive sovereignty by Cyrus and the Persians, yet they retained much of their ancient importance. Ecbatana was the winter (royal?) residence [Note] of the Persian kings, as it was of the Macedonian princes, who overthrew the Persian empire, and got possession of Syria. It still continues to serve the same purpose, and affords security to the kings of Parthia. 11.13.6

Media is bounded on the east by Parthia, and by the mountains of the Cossæi, a predatory tribe. They once furnished the Elymæi, whose allies they were in the war against the Susii and Babylonians, with 13,000 archers. Nearchus says that there were four robber tribes; the Mardi, who were contiguous to the Persians; the Uxii and Elymæi, who were on the borders of the Persians and Susii; and the Cossæi, on those of the Medes; that all of them exacted tribute from the kings; that the Cossæi received presents, when the king, having passed his summer at Ecbatana went down to Babylonia; that Alexander attacked them in the winter time, and repressed their excessive insolence. Media is bounded on the east by these nations, and by the Parætaceni, who are contiguous to the Persians, and are mountaineers, and robbers; on the north by the Cadusii, who live above the Hyrcanian Sea, and by other nations, whom we have just enumerated; on the south by the Apolloniatis, which the ancients called Sitacene, and by the Zagrus, along which lies Massabatica, which belongs to Media, but according to others, to Elymæa; on the west by the Atropatii, and by some tribes of the Armenians.

There are also Grecian cities in Media, founded by Macedonians, as Laodiceia, Apameia, Heracleia near Rhagæ, and Rhaga itself, founded by Nicator, who called it Europus, and the Parthians Arsacia, situated about 500 stadia to the south of the Caspian Gates, according to Apollodorus of Artemita. 11.13.7

The greater part of Media consists of high ground, and is cold; such are the mountains above Ecbatana, and the places about Rhagæ and the Caspian Gates, and the northern parts in general extending thence as far as Matiane and Armenia.

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The country below the Caspian Gates consists of flat grounds and valleys. It is very fertile, and produces everything except the olive, or if it grows anywhere it does not yield oil, and is dry. The country is peculiarly adapted, as well as Armenia, for breeding horses. There is a meadow tract called Hippobotus, which is traversed by travellers on their way from Persia and Babylonia to the Caspian Gates. Here, it is said, fifty thousand mares were pastured in the time of the Persians, and were the king's stud. The Nesæan horses, the best and largest in the king's province, were of this breed, according to some writers, but according to others they came from Armenia. Their shape is peculiar, as is that of the Parthian horses, compared with those of Greece and others in our country.

The herbage which constitutes the chief food of the horses we call peculiarly by the name of Medic, from its growing in Media in great abundance. The country produces Silphium, [Note] from which is obtained the Medic juice, much inferior to the Cyrenaic, but sometimes it excels the latter, which may be accounted for by the difference of places, or from a change the plant may undergo, or from the mode of extracting and preparing the juice so as to continue good when laid by for use. 11.13.8

Such then is the nature of the country with respect to magnitude; its length and breadth are nearly equal. The greatest breadth (length?) [Note] however seems to be that reckoned from the pass across the Zagrus, which is called the Median Gate, to the Caspian Gates, through the country of Sigriana, 4100 stadia.

The account of the tribute paid agrees with the extent and wealth of the country. Cappadocia paid to the Persians yearly, in addition to a tribute in silver, 1500 horses, 2000 mules, and 50,000 sheep, and the Medes contributed nearly double this amount. 11.13.9

Many of their customs are the same as those of the Armenians, from the similarity of the countries which they inhabit. The Medes however were the first to communicate them to the Armenians, and still before that time to the Persians, who were their masters, and successors in the empire of Asia.

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The Persian stole, as it is now called, the pursuit of archery and horsemanship, the court paid to their kings, their attire, and veneration fitting for gods paid by the subjects to the prince,—these the Persians derived from the Medes. That this is the fact appears chiefly from their dress. A tiara, a citaris, a hat, [Note] tunics with sleeves reaching to the hands, and trowsers, are proper to be worn in cold and northerly places, such as those in Media, but they are not by any means adapted to inhabitants of the south. The Persians had their principal settlements on the Gulf of Persia, being situated more to the south than the Babylonians and the Susii. But after the overthrow of the Medes they gained possession of some tracts of country contiguous to Media. The custom however of the vanquished appeared to the conquerors to be so noble, and appropriate to royal state, that instead of nakedness or scanty clothing, they endured the use of the feminine stole, and were entirely covered with dress to the feet.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.12.5 Str. 11.13.7 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.14.1

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