Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.2.15 Str. 11.3.2 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.4.2


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. 11.3.3

The plain is occupied by those Iberians who are more disposed to agriculture, and are inclined to peace. Their dress is after the Armenian and Median fashion. Those who inhabit the mountainous country, and they are the most numerous, are addicted to war, live like the Sarmatians and Scythians, on whose country they border, and with whom they are connected by affinity of race. These people however engage in agriculture also, and can assemble many myriads of persons from among themselves, and from the Scythians and Sarmatians, whenever any disturbance occurs. 11.3.4

There are four passes into the country; one through Sarapana, a Colchian fortress, and through the defiles near it, along which the Phasis, rendered passable from one side to the other by a hundred and twenty bridges, in conse-

-- 231 --

quence of the winding of its stream, descends abruptly and violently into Colchis. The places in its course are hollowed by numerous torrents, during the rainy season. It rises in the mountains which lie above, and many springs contribute to swell its stream. In the plains it receives other rivers also, among which are the Glaucus [Note] and the Hippus. [Note] The stream thus filled and navigable discharges itself into the Pontus. It has on its banks a city of the same name, and near it a lake. Such is the nature of the entrance into Iberia from Colchis, shut in by rocks and strongholds, and by rivers running through ravines.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.2.15 Str. 11.3.2 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.4.2

Powered by PhiloLogic