Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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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. 11.14.10

Of the riches and power of this country, this is no slight proof, that when Pompey imposed upon Tigranes, the father of Artavasdes, the payment of 6000 talents of silver, he immediately distributed the money among the Roman army, to each soldier 50 drachmæ, 1000 to a centurion, and a talent to a Hipparch and a Chiliarch. 11.14.11

Theophanes represents this as the size of the country; its breadth to be 100 schœni, and its length double this number, reckoning the schœnus at 40 stadia; but this computation exceeds the truth. It is nearer the truth to take the

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length as he has given it, and the breadth at one half, or a little more.

Such then is the nature of the country of Armenia, and its power. 11.14.12

There exists an ancient account of the origin of this nation to the following effect. Armenus of Armenium, a Thessalian city, which lies between Pheræ and Larisa on the lake Bœbe, accompanied Jason, as we have already said, in his expedition into Armenia, and from Armenus the country had its name, according to Cyrsilus the Pharsalian and Medius the Larisæan, persons who had accompanied the army of Alexander. Some of the followers of Armenus settled in Acilisene, which was formerly subject to the Sopheni; others in the Syspiritis, and spread as far as Calachene and Adiabene, beyond the borders of Armenia.

The dress of the Armenian people is said to be of Thessalian origin; such are the long tunics, which in tragedies are called Thessalian; they are fastened about the body with a girdle, and with a clasp on the shoulder. The tragedians, for they required some additional decoration of this kind, imitate the Thessalians in their attire. The Thessalians in particular, from wearing a long dress, (probably because they inhabit the most northerly and the coldest country in all Greece,) afforded the most appropriate subject of imitation to actors for their theatrical representations. The passion for riding and the care of horses characterize the Thessalians, and are common to Armenians and Medes.

The Jasonia are evidence of the expedition of Jason: some of these memorials the sovereigns of the country restored, as Parmenio restored the temple of Jason at Abdera.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.14.1 Str. 11.14.8 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.14.15

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