Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.2.15 Str. 11.2.18 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.3.5


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 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.

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. 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.

-- 230 --


THE greater part of Iberia is well inhabited, and contains cities and villages where the houses have roofs covered with tiles, and display skill in building; there are marketplaces in them, and various kinds of public edifices. 11.3.2

Some part of the country is encompassed by the Caucasian mountains; for branches of this range advance, as I have said, towards the south. These districts are fruitful, comprise the whole of Iberia, and extend to Armenia and Colchis. In the middle is a plain watered by rivers, the largest of which is the Cyrus, which, rising in Armenia, immediately enters the above-mentioned plain, having received the Aragus, [Note] which flows at the foot of the Caucasus, and other streams, passes through a narrow channel into Albania. It flows however between this country and Armenia in a large body through plains, which afford excellent pasture. After having received several rivers, and among these the Alazonius, [Note] Sandobanes, the Rhœtaces, and Chanes, all of which are navigable, it discharges itself into the Caspian Sea. Its former name was Corus.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.2.15 Str. 11.2.18 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.3.5

Powered by PhiloLogic