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CHAPTER II. 11.2.1

ACCORDING to this disposition, the first portion towards the north and the Ocean is inhabited by certain tribes of Scythians, shepherds, (nomades,) and Hamaxœci (or those who live in waggon-houses). Within these tribes live Sarmatians, who also are Scythians, Aorsi, [Note] and Siraci, extending as far as the Caucasian Mountains towards the south. Some of these are Nomades, or shepherd tribes, others Scenitæ, (or dwellers in tents,) and Georgi, or tillers of the ground. About the lake Mæotis live the Mœotæ. Close to the sea is the Asiatic portion of the Bosporus and Sindica. [Note] Next follow Achæi, Zygi, Heniochi, [Note] Cercetæ, and Macropogones (or the longbeards). Above these people are situated the passes of the Phtheirophagi (or Lice-eaters). After the Heniochi is Colchis, lying at the foot of the Caucasian and Moschic mountains. Having assumed the Tanaïs as the boundary of Europe and Asia, we must begin our description in detail from this river.

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2. The Tanaïs or Don flows from the northern parts. It does not however flow in a direction diametrically opposite to the Nile, as some suppose, but its course is more to the east than that of the latter river; its sources, like those of the Nile, are unknown. A great part of the course of the Nile is apparent, for it traverses a country the whole of which is easy of access, and its stream is navigable to a great distance from its mouth. We are acquainted with the mouths of the Don, (there are two in the most northerly parts of the Mæotis, distant 60 stadia from each other,) but a small part only of the tract above the mouths is explored, on account of the severity of the cold, and the destitute state of the country; the natives are able to endure it, who subsist, like the wandering shepherd tribes, on the flesh of their animals and on milk, but strangers cannot bear the climate nor its privations. Besides, the nomades dislike intercourse with other people, and being a strong and numerous tribe have excluded travellers from every part of the country which is accessible, and from all such rivers as are navigable. For this reason some have supposed that the sources of the river are among the Caucasian mountains, that, after flowing in a full stream towards the north, it then makes a bend, and discharges itself into the Mæotis. Theophanes [Note] of Mitylene is of the same opinion with these writers. Others suppose that it comes from the higher parts of the Danube, but they do not produce any proof of so remote a source, and in other climates, though they seem to think it impossible for it to rise at no great distance and in the north. 11.2.3

Upon the river, and on the lake, stands a city Tanaïs, founded by the Greeks, who possess the Bosporus; but lately the King Polemon [Note] laid it waste on account of the refractory disposition of the inhabitants. It was the common mart both of the Asiatic and of the European nomades, and of those who navigate the lake from the Bosporus, some of whom bring slaves and hides, or any other nomadic commodity; others exchange wine for clothes, and other articles peculiar to a civilized mode of life.

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In front of the mart at the distance of 100 stadia is an is land Alopecia, a settlement of a mixed people. There are other small islands not far off in the lake. The city Tanaïs, [Note] to those who sail in a direct line towards the north, is distant from the mouth of the Mæotis 2200 stadia, nor is the distance much greater in sailing along the coast (on the east). 11.2.4

In the voyage along the coast, the first object which presents itself to those who have proceeded to the distance of 800 stadia from the Tanaïs, is the Great Rhombites, as it is called, where large quantities of fish are captured for the purpose of being salted. Then at the distance of 800 stadia more is the Lesser Rhombites, [Note] and a promontory, which has smaller fisheries. The [nomades] at the former have small islands as stations for their vessels, those at the Lesser Rhombites are the Mæotæ who cultivate the ground. For along the whole of this coasting voyage live Mæotæ, who are husbandmen, but not less addicted to war than the nomades. They are divided into several tribes; those near the Tanaïs are more savage, those contiguous to the Bosporus are more gentle in their manners.

From the Lesser Rhombites to Tyrambe, and the river Anticeites, are 600 stadia; then 120 to the Cimmerian village, whence vessels set out on their voyage along the lake. In this coasting voyage we meet with some look-out places, (for observing the fish,) said to belong to the Clazomenians. 11.2.5

Cimmericum was formerly a city built upon a peninsula, the isthmus of which it enclosed with a ditch and mound. The Cimmerii once possessed great power in the Bosporus, whence it was called the Cimmerian Bosporus. These are the people who overran the territory of the inhabitants of the inland parts, on the right of the Euxine, as far as Ionia. They were dislodged from these places by Scythians, and the Scythians by Greeks, who founded Panticapæum, [Note] and the other cities on the Bosporus.

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6. Next to the village Achilleium, [Note] where is the temple of Achilles, are 20 stadia. Here is the narrowest passage, 20 stadia or more, across the mouth of the Mæotis; on the opposite continent is Myrmecium, a village. Near are Heracleium and Parthenium. 11.2.7

Thence to the monument of Satyrus are 90 stadia; this is a mound raised on a promontory, [Note] in memory of one of the illustrious princes of the Bosporus. 11.2.8

Near it is Patræus, [Note] a village, from which to Corocondame, [Note] a village, are 130 stadia. This is the termination of the Cimmerian Bosporus, as it is called. The narrow passage at the mouth of the Mœotis derives its name from the straits opposite the Achilleium, and the Myrmecium; it extends as far as Corocondame and a small village opposite to it in the territory of the Panticapæans, called Acra, [Note] and separated by a channel of 70 stadia in width. The ice reaches even to this place, for the Mæotis is frozen during severe frost so as to become passable on foot. The whole of this narrow passage has good harbours. 11.2.9

Beyond Corocondame is a large lake [Note] which is called from the place Corocondametis. It discharges itself into the sea at the distance of 10 stadia from the village. A branch [Note] of the river Anticeites empties itself into the lake, and forms an island, which is surrounded by the waters of the lake, of the Mæotis, and of the river. Some persons give this river the name of Hypanis, [Note] as well as to that [Note] near the Borysthenes. [Note] 11.2.10

Upon sailing [Note] into the Corocondametis, we meet with

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Phanagoria, a considerable city, Cepi, Hermonassa, and Apa turum, the temple of Venus (Apatura). Of these cities Phanagoria and Cepi are situated in the above-mentioned island on the left hand at the entrance of the lake; the others are on the right hand in Sindica beyond the Hypanis. There is Gorgipia, [Note] but the royal seat of the Sindi is in Sindica near the sea, and Aborace.

All those who are subject to the princes of the Bosporus are called Bosporani. The capital of the European Bosporani is Panticapæum, and of the Asian Bosporani, the city of Phanagorium, [Note] for this is the name given to it. Phanagoria seems to be the mart for those commodities which are brought down from the Mæotis, and from the barbarous country lying above it; and Panticapæum, the mart for the commodities which are transported thither from the sea. There is also in Phanagoria a magnificent temple of Venus Apatura, the Deceitful. This epithet of the goddess is derived from a fable, according to which the giants assaulted her in this place. Having obtained the assistance of Hercules she hid him in a cave, and then admitted the giants one by one into her presence, and delivered them over to Hercules, thus craftily [Note] to be put to death. 11.2.11

The Sindi, Dandarii, Toreatæ, Agri, Arrhechi, and besides these, the Tarpetes, Obidiaceni, Sittaceni, Dosci, and many others, belong to the Mæotæ; to this people belong the Aspurgiani also, who live between Phanagoria and Gorgipia, at the distance of 500 stadia [from the Mæotis?]. Polemon, the king, entered the country of these people under a

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show of friendship, but his design was discovered, and they on their part attacked him unawares. He was taken prisoner, and put to death.

With respect to the Asian Mæotæ in general, some of them were the subjects of those who possessed the mart on the Tanaïs; others, of the Bosporani; and different bodies have revolted at different times. The princes of the Bosporani were frequently masters of the country as far as the Tanaïs, and particularly the last princes, Pharnaces, Asander, and Polemon.

Pharnaces is said to have once brought even the river Hypanis over the territory of the Dandarii through some ancient canal, which he had caused to be cleared, and inundated the country. 11.2.12

Next to Sindica, and Gorgipia upon the sea, is the sea-coast inhabited by the Achæi, Zygi, and Heniochi. It is for the most part without harbours and mountainous, being a portion of the Caucasus.

These people subsist by piracy.

Their boats are slender, narrow, light, and capable of holding about five and twenty men, and rarely thirty. The Greeks call them camaræ. They say, that at the time of the expedition of Jason the Achæi Phthio$tæ founded the Achaia there, and the Lacedæmonians, Heniochia. Their leaders were Rhecas, and Amphistratus, the charioteers [Note] of the Dioscuri; it is probable that the Heniochi had their name from these persons. They equip fleets consisting of these camaræ, and being masters of the sea sometimes attack vessels of burden, or invade a territory, or even a city. Sometimes even those who occupy the Bosporus assist them, by furnishing places of shelter for their vessels, and supply them with provision and means for the disposal of their booty. When they return to their own country, not having places suitable for mooring their vessels, they put their camaræ on their shoulders, and carry them up into the forests, among which they live, and where they cultivate a poor soil. When the season arrives for navigation, they bring them down again to the coast. Their habits are the same even in a foreign country, for they are acquainted with wooded tracts, in which, after concealing their camaræ, they wander about on foot day

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and night, for the purpose of capturing the inhabitants and reducing them to slavery. But they readily allow whatever is taken to be ransomed, and signify this after their departure to those who have lost their property. In places where there is a regular government, the injured find means of repelling them. For, frequently, the pirates are attacked in return, and are carried off together with their camaræ. But the country subject to the Romans is not so well protected, in conse- quence of the neglect of those who are sent there. 11.2.13

Such then is their mode of life. But even these people are governed by persons called Sceptuchi, and these again are subject to the authority of tyrants, or of kings. The Heniochi had four kings at the time that Mithridates Eupator fled from the country of his ancestors to the Bosporus, and passed through their country, which was open to him, but he avoided that of the Zygi on account of its ruggedness, and the savage character of the people. He proceeded with difficulty along the sea-coast, frequently embarking in vessels, till he came to the country of the Achæi, by whom he was hospitably received. He had then completed a journey from the Phasis of not much less than 4000 stadia. 11.2.14

From Corocondame, the course of the voyage is directly towards the east. At the distance of 180 stadia is the Sindic harbour, and a city. Then at the distance of 400 stadia is Bata, [Note] as it is called, a village with a harbour. It is at this place that Sinope on the south seems to be directly opposite to this coast, as Carambis [Note] has been said to be opposite to Criu-Metopon. [Note]

Next to Bata Artemidorus places the coast of the Cercetæ, which has places of shelter for vessels, and villages along an extent of about 850 stadia; then at 500 stadia more the coast of the Achæi, then that of the Heniochi, at 1000 stadia, then the Great Pityus, from which to Dioscurias are 360 stadia.

The authors most worthy of credit who have written the history of the Mithridatic wars, enumerate the Achæi first, then Zygi, then Heniochi, then Cercetæ, Moschi, Colchi, and above these the Phtheirophagi, Soanes, and other smaller nations about the Caucasus.

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The direction of the sea-coast is at first, as I have said, towards the east, with a southern aspect; but from Bata it makes a bend for a small distance, then fronts the west, and terminates towards Pityus, and Dioscurias, for these places are contiguous to the coast of Colchis, which I have already mentioned. Next to Dioscurias is the remainder of the coast of Colchis, and Trapezus contiguous to it; where the coast, having made a considerable turn, then extends nearly in a straight line, and forms the side on the right hand of the Euxine, looking to the north.

The whole of the coast of the Achæi, and of the other nations, as far as Dioscurias, and the inland places lying in a straight line towards the south, are at the foot of the Caucasus. 11.2.15

This mountain overhangs both the Euxine and the Caspian seas, forming a kind of rampart to the isthmus which separates one sea from the other. To the south it is the boundary of Albania and Iberia, to the north, of the plains of the Sarmatians. It is well wooded, and contains various kinds of timber, and especially trees adapted to shipbuilding. Eratosthenes says that the Caucasus is called Mount Caspius by the natives, a name borrowed perhaps from the Caspii. It throws out forks towards the south, which embrace the middle of Iberia, and touch the Armenian and those called the Moschic mountains, [Note] and besides these the mountains of Scydises, and the Paryadres. All these are portions of the Taurus, which forms the southern side of Armenia, and are broken off in a manner from it towards the north, and extend as far as Caucasus, and the coast of the Euxine which lies between Colchis and Themiscyra. [Note] 11.2.16

Situated on a bay of this kind, and occupying the most easterly point of the whole sea, is Dioscurias, [Note] called the recess

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of the Euxine Sea, and the extreme boundary of navigation, for in this sense we are to understand the proverbial saying, To Phasis where ships end their course.
Not as if the author of the iambic intended to speak of the river, nor of the city of the same name upon the river, but Colchis designated by a part, because from the city and the river there remains a voyage of not less than 600 stadia in a straight line to the recess of the bay. This same Dioscurias is the commencement of the isthmus lying between the Caspian Sea and the Euxine. It is a common mart of the nations situated above it, and in its neighbourhood. There assemble at Dioscurias 70 or, according to some writers who are careless in their statements, [Note] 300 nations. All speak different languages, from living dispersed in various places and without intercourse, in consequence of their fierce and savage manners. They are chiefly Sarmatians, but all of them Caucasian tribes. So much then respecting Dioscurias. 11.2.17

The greater part of the rest of Colchis lies upon the sea. The Phasis, [Note] a large river, flows through it. It has its source in Armenia, and receives the Glaucus, [Note] and the Hippus, [Note] which issue from the neighbouring mountains. Vessels ascend it as far as the fortress of Sarapana, [Note] which is capable of containing the population even of a city. Persons proceed thence by land to the Cyrus in four days along a carriage road. [Note] Upon the Phasis is a city of the same name, a mart of the Colchians, bounded on one side by the river, on another by a lake, on the third by the sea. Thence it is a voyage of three or two [Note] days to Amisus and Sinope, on account of the softness of the shores caused by the discharge of rivers. [Note]

The country is fertile and its produce is good, except the

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honey, which has generally a bitter taste. It furnishes all materials for ship-building. It produces them in great plenty, and they are conveyed down by its rivers. It supplies flax, hemp, wax, and pitch, in great abundance. Its linen manufacture is celebrated, for it was exported to foreign parts; and those who wish to establish an affinity of race between the Colchians and the ægyptians, advance this as a proof of it.

Above the rivers which I have mentioned in the Moschic territory is the temple of Leucothea, [Note] founded by Phrixus [Note] and his oracle, where a ram is not sacrificed. It was once rich, but was plundered in our time by Pharnaces, and a little afterwards by Mithridates of Pergamus. [Note] For when a country is devastated, in the words of Euripides, respect to the gods languishes, and they are not honoured.
Eurip. Troad. 26.
11.2.18

How great anciently was the celebrity of this country, appears from the fables which refer obscurely to the expedition of Jason, who advanced as far even as Media; and still earlier intimations of it are found in the fables relative to the expedition of Phrixus. The kings that preceded, and who possessed the country when it was divided into Sceptuchies, [Note] were not very powerful, but when Mithridates Eupator had enlarged his territory, this country fell under his dominion. One of his courtiers was always sent as sub-governor and administrator of its public affairs. Of this number was Moaphernes, my mother's paternal uncle. It was from this country that the king derived the greatest part of his supplies for the equipment of his naval armament. But upon the overthrow of Mithridates, all the country subject to his power was disunited, and divided among several persons. At last Polemon

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obtained possession of Colchis, and after his death his wife Pythodoris reigned over the Colchians, Trapezus, Pharnacia, and the Barbarians situated above them, of whom I shall speak in another place.

The territory of the Moschi, in which is situated the temple, is divided into three portions, one of which is occupied by Colchians, another by Iberians, and the third by Armenians. There is in Iberia on the confines of Colchis, a small city, the city of Phrixus, the present Idessa, a place of strength. The river Charis [Note] flows near Dioscurias. 11.2.19

Among the nations that assemble at Dioscurias are the Phtheiropagi, who have their appellation from their dirt and filth.

Near them live the Soanes, not less dirty in their habits, but superior perhaps to all the tribes in strength and courage. They are masters of the country around them, and occupy the heights of Caucasus above Dioscurias. They have a king, and a council of three hundred persons. They can assemble, it is said, an army of two hundred thousand men, for all their people are fighting men, but not distributed into certain orders. In their country the winter torrents are said to bring down even gold, which the Barbarians collect in troughs pierced with holes, and lined with fleeces; and hence the fable of the golden fleece. Some [Note] say that they are called Iberians (the same name as the western Iberians) from the gold mines found in both countries. The Soanes use poison of an extraordinary kind for the points of their weapons; even the odour of this poison is a cause of suffering to those who are wounded by arrows thus prepared.

The other neighbouring nations about the Caucasus occupy barren and narrow tracts of land. But the tribes of the Albanians and Iberians, who possess nearly the whole of the above-mentioned isthmus, may also be denominated Caucasian, and yet they live in a fertile country and capable of being well peopled.

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