Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.3.6 Str. 11.4.7 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.5.4


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. 11.4.8

The Albanians pay the greatest respect to old age, which is not confined to their parents, but is extended to old persons

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in general. It is regarded as impious to show any concern for the dead, or to mention their names. Their money is buried with them, hence they live in poverty, having no patrimony.

So much concerning the Albanians. It is said that when Jason, accompanied by Armenus the Thessalian, undertook the voyage to the Colchi, they advanced as far as the Caspian Sea, and traversed Iberia, Albania, a great part of Armenia, and Media, as the Jasoneia and many other monuments testify. Armenus, they say, was a native of Armenium, one of the cities on the lake Beebeis, between Pheræ and Parisa, and that his companions settled in Acilisene, and the Suspiritis, and occupied the country as far as Calachene and Adiabene, and that he gave his own name to Armenia.

CHAPTER V. 11.5.1

THE Amazons are said to live among the mountains above Albania. Theophanes, who accompanied Pompey in his wars, and was in the country of the Albanians, says that Gelæ and Legæ, [Note] Scythian tribes, live between the Amazons and the Albanians, and that the river Mermadalis [Note] takes its course in the country lying in the middle between these people and the Amazons. But other writers, and among these Metrodorus of Scepsis, and Hypsicrates, who were themselves acquainted with these places, say that the Amazons bordered upon the Gargarenses [Note] on the north, at the foot of the Caucasian mountains, which are called Ceraunia.

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When at home they are occupied in performing with their own hands the work of ploughing, planting, pasturing cattle, and particularly in training horses. The strongest among them spend much of their time in hunting on horseback, and practise warlike exercises. All of them from infancy have the right breast seared, in order that they may use the arm with ease for all manner of purposes, and particularly for throwing the javelin. They employ the bow also, and sagaris, (a kind of sword,) and wear a buckler. They make helmets, and coverings for the body, and girdles, of the skins of wild animals. They pass two months of the spring on a neighbouring mountain, which is the boundary between them and the Gargarenses. The latter also ascend the mountain according to some ancient custom for the purpose of performing common sacrifices, and of having intercourse with the women with a view to offspring, in secret and in darkness, the man with the first woman he meets. When the women are pregnant they are sent away. The female children that may be born are retained by the Amazons themselves, but the males are taken to the Gargarenses to be brought up. The children are distributed among families, in which the master treats them as his own, it being impossible to ascertain the contrary.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.3.6 Str. 11.4.7 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.5.4

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