Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.3.4 Str. 11.4.4 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.5.1

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. 11.4.6

Their kings differ from one another; at present one king governs all the tribes. Formerly each tribe was governed by a king, who spoke the peculiar language of each. They speak six and twenty languages from the want of mutual intercourse and communication with one another.

The country produces some venomous reptiles, as scorpions and tarantulas. These tarantulas cause death in some instances by laughter, in others by grief and a longing to return home. 11.4.7

The gods they worship are the Sun, Jupiter, and the Moon, but the Moon above the rest. She has a temple near Iberia. The priest is a person who, next to the king, receives the highest honours. He has the government of the sacred land, which is extensive and populous, and authority over the sacred attendants, many of whom are divinely inspired, and prophesy. Whoever of these persons, being violently possessed, wanders alone in the woods, is seized by the priest, who, having bound him with sacred fetters, maintains him sumptuously during that year. Afterwards he is brought forth at the sacrifice performed in honour of the goddess, and is anointed with fragrant ointment and sacrificed together with other victims. The sacrifice is performed in the following manner. A person, having in his hand a sacred lance, with which it is the custom to sacrifice human victims, advances out of the crowd and pierces the heart through the side, which he does from experience in this office. When the man has fallen, certain prognostications are indicated by the manner of the fall, and these are publicly declared. The body is carried away to a certain spot, and then they all trample upon it, performing this action as a mode of purification of themselves.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.3.4 Str. 11.4.4 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.5.1

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