Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.2.12 Str. 11.2.17 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.3.3


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

-- 227 --

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

-- 228 --

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 Ʀgyptians, 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.

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

-- 229 --

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.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.2.12 Str. 11.2.17 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.3.3

Powered by PhiloLogic