Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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11.3.5

From the Nomades on the north there is a difficult ascent for three days, and then a narrow road by the side of the river Aragus, a journey of four days, which road admits only one person to pass at a time. The termination of the road is guarded by an impregnable wall.

From Albania the entrance is at first cut through rocks, then passes over a marsh formed by the river (Alazonius), [Note] in its descent from the Caucasus. On the side of Armenia are the narrow passes on the Cyrus, and those on the Aragus, for before the junction of these rivers they have on their banks strong cities set upon rocks, at the distance from each other of about 18 stadia, as Harmozica [Note] on the Cyrus, and on the other (Aragus) Seusamora. Pompey formerly in his way from Armenia, and afterwards Canidius, marched through these passes into Iberia. 11.3.6

The inhabitants of this country are also divided into four classes; the first and chief is that from which the kings are appointed. The king is the oldest and the nearest of his predecessor's relations. The second administers justice, and is commander of the army.

The second class consists of priests, whose business it is to settle the respective rights of their own and the bordering people.

The third is composed of soldiers and husbandmen. The fourth comprehends the common people, who are royal slaves, and perform all the duties of ordinary life.

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Possessions are common property in families, but the eldest governs, and is the steward of each.

Such is the character of the Iberians, and the nature of their country.

CHAPTER IV. 11.4.1

THE Albanians pursue rather a shepherd life, and resemble more the nomadic tribes, except that they are not savages, and hence they are little disposed to war. They inhabit the country between the Iberians and the Caspian Sea, approaching close to the sea on the east, and on the west border upon the Iberians.

Of the remaining sides the northern is protected by the Caucasian mountains, for these overhang the plains, and are called, particularly those near the sea, Ceraunian mountains. The southern side is formed by Armenia, which extends along it. A large portion of it consists of plains, and a large portion also of mountains, as Cambysene, where the Armenians approach close both to the Iberians and the Albanians. 11.4.2

The Cyrus, which flows through Albania, and the other rivers which swell the stream of the Cyrus, improve the qualities of the land, but remove the sea to a distance. For the mud, accumulating in great quantity, fillsup the channel in such a manner, that the small adjacent islands are annexed to the continent, irregular marshes are formed, and difficult to be avoided; the reverberation also of the tide increases the irregular formation of the marshes. The mouth of the river is said to be divided into twelve branches, some of which afford no passage through them, others are so shallow as to leave no shelter for vessels. The shore for an extent of more than 60 stadia is inundated by the sea, and by the rivers; all that part of it is inaccessible; the mud reaches even as far as 500 stadia, and forms a bank along the coast. The Araxes [Note] discharges its waters not far off, coming with an impetuous stream from Armenia, but the mud which this

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river impels forward, making the channel pervious, is replaced by the Cyrus. 11.4.3

Perhaps such a race of people have no need of the sea, for they do not make a proper use even of the land, which produces every kind of fruit, even the most delicate, and every kind of plant and evergreen. It is not cultivated with the least care; but all that is excellent grows without sowing, and without ploughing, according to the accounts of persons who have accompanied armies there, and describe the inhabitants as leading a Cyclopean mode of life. In many places the ground, which has been sowed once, produces two or three crops, the first of which is even fifty-fold, and that without a fallow, nor is the ground turned with an iron instrument, but with a plough made entirely of wood. The whole plain is better watered than Babylon or ægypt, by rivers and streams, so that it always presents the appearance of herbage, and it affords excellent pasture. The air here is better than in those countries. The vines remain always without digging round them, and are pruned every five years. The young trees bear fruit even the second year, but the full grown yield so much that a large quantity of it is left on the branches. The cattle, both tame and wild, thrive well in this country. 11.4.4

The men are distinguished for beauty of person and for size. They are simple in their dealings and not fraudulent, for they do not in general use coined money; nor are they acquainted with any number above a hundred, and transact their exchanges by loads. They are careless with regard to the other circumstances of life. They are ignorant of weights and measures as far as exactness is concerned; they are im- provident with respect to war, government, and agriculture. They fight however on foot and on horseback, both in light and in heavy armour, like the Armenians. 11.4.5

They can send into the field a larger army than the Iberians, for they can equip 60,000 infantry and 22,000 horsemen; with such a force they offered resistance to Pompey. The Nomades also co-operate with them against foreigners, as they do with the Iberians on similar occasions. When there is no war they frequently attack these people and prevent them from cultivating the ground. They use javelins and bows, and wear breastplates, shields, and coverings for

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the head, made of the hides of wild animals, like the Iberians.

To the country of the Albanians belongs Caspiana, and has its name from the Caspian tribe, from whom the sea also has its appellation; the Caspian tribe is now extinct.

The entrance from Iberia into Albania is through the Cambysene, a country without water, and rocky, to the river Alazonius. The people themselves and their dogs are excessively fond of the chase, pursuing it with equal eagerness and skill.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.3.1 Str. 11.4.2 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.4.8

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