Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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There are many mountains in Armenia, and many mountain plains, in which not even the vine grows. There are also many valleys, some are moderately fertile, others are very productive, as the Araxenian plain, through which the river Araxes flows to the extremities of Albania, and empties itself into the Caspian Sea. Next is Sacasene, which borders upon Albania, and the river Cyrus; then Gogarene. All this district abounds with products of the soil, cultivated fruit trees and evergreens. It bears also the olive.

There is Phauene, (Phanenæ, Phasiana?) a province of Armenia, Comisene, and Orchistene, which furnishes large bodies of cavalry.

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Chorzene [Note] and Cambysene are the most northerly countries, and particularly subject to falls of snow. They are contiguous to the Caucasian mountains, to Iberia, and Colchis. Here, they say, on the passes over mountains, it frequently happens that whole companies of persons have been overwhelmed in violent snow-storms. Travellers are provided against such dangerous accidents with poles, which they force upwards to the surface of the snow, for the purpose of breathing, and of signifying their situation to other travellers who may come that way, so that they may receive assistance, be extricated, and so escape alive.

They say that hollow masses are consolidated in the snow, which contain good water, enveloped as in a coat; that animals are bred in the snow, which Apollonides call scoleces, [Note] and Theophanes, thripes, and that these hollow masses con tain good water, which is obtained by breaking open their coats or coverings. The generation of these animals is supposed to be similar to that of the gnats, (or mosquitos,) from flames, and the sparks in mines. 11.14.5

According to historians, Armenia, which was formerly a small country, was enlarged by Artaxias and Zariadris, who had been generals of Antiochus the Great, and at last, after his overthrow, when they became kings, (the former of Sophene, Acisene, (Amphissene?) Odomantis, and some other places, the latter of the country about Artaxata,) they simultaneously aggrandized themselves, by taking away portions of the territory of the surrounding nations: from the Medes they took the Caspiana, Phaunitis, and Basoropeda; from the Iberians, the country at the foot of the Paryadres, the Chorzene, and Gogarene, which is on the other side of the Cyrus; from the Chalybes, and the Mosynœci, Carenitis and Xerxene, which border upon the Lesser Armenia, or are even parts of it; from the Cataones, Acilisene, [Note] and the country about the Anti-Taurus; from the Syrians, Taronitis; [Note] hence they all speak the same language. 11.14.6

The cities of Armenia are Artaxata, called also Artax-

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iasata, built by Hannibal for the king Artaxias, and Arxata, both situated on the Araxes; Arxata on the confines of Atropatia, and Artaxata near the Araxenian plain; it is well inhabited, and the seat of the kings of the country. It lies upon a peninsular elbow of land; the river encircles the walls except at the isthmus, which is enclosed by a ditch and rampart.

Not far from the city are the treasure-storehouses of Tigranes and Artavasdes, the strong fortresses Babyrsa, and Olane. There were others also upon the Euphrates. Ador, (Addon?) the governor of the fortress, occasioned the revolt of Artageræ, but the generals of Cæsar retook it after a long siege, and destroyed the walls. 11.14.7

There are many rivers in the country. The most celebrated are the Phasis and Lycus; they empty themselves into the Euxine; (Eratosthenes instead of the Lycus mentions the Thermodon, but erroneously;) the Cyrus and the Araxes into the Caspian, and the Euphrates and the Tigris into the Persian Gulf. 11.14.8

There are also large lakes in Armenia; one the Mantiane, [Note] which word translated signifies Cyane, or Blue, the largest salt-water lake, it is said, after the Palus Mæotis, extending as far as (Media-) Atropatia. It has salt pans for the concretion of salt.

The next is Arsene, [Note] which is also called Thopitis. Its waters contain nitre, and are used for cleaning and fulling clothes. It is unfit by these qualities for drinking. The Tigris passes through this lake [Note] after issuing from the mountainous country near the Niphates, and by its rapidity keeps its stream unmixed with the water of the lake, whence it has its name, for the Medes call an arrow, Tigris. This river contains fish of various kinds, but the lake one kind only.

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At the extremity of the lake the river falls into a deep cavity in the earth. After pursuing a long course under-ground, it re-appears in the Chalonitis; thence it goes to Opis, and to the wall of Semiramis, as it is called, leaving the Gordyæi [Note] and the whole of Mesopotamia on the right hand. The Euphrates, on the contrary, has the same country on the left. Having approached one another, and formed Mesopotamia, one traverses Seleucia in its course to the Persian Gulf, the other Babylon, as I have said in replying to Eratosthenes and Hipparchus. 11.14.9

There are mines of gold in the Hyspiratis, [Note] near Caballa. Alexander sent Menon to the mines with a body of soldiers, but he was strangled [Note] by the inhabitants of the coun- try. There are other mines, and also a mine of Sandyx as it is called, to which is given the name of Armenian colour, it resembles the Calche. [Note]

This country is so well adapted, being nothing inferior in this respect to Media, for breeding horses, that the race of Nesean horses, which the kings of Persia used, is found here also; the satrap of Armenia used to send annually to the king of Persia 20,000 foals at the time of the festival of the Mithracina. Artavasdes, when he accompanied Antony in his invasion of Media, exhibited, besides other bodies of cavalry, 6000 horse covered with complete armour drawn up in array.

Not only do the Medes and Armenians, but the Albanians also, admire this kind of cavalry, for the latter use horses covered with armour.

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