Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.4.3 Str. 11.5.1 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.5.6


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. 11.5.2

The Mermodas, [Note] descending like a torrent from the mountains through the country of the Amazons, the Siracene, and the intervening desert, discharges itself into the Mæotis. [Note]

It is said that the Gargarenses ascended together with the Amazons from Themiscyra to these places, that they then separated, and with the assistance of some Thracians and Eubœans, who had wandered as far as this country, made war against the Amazons, and at length, upon its termination, entered into a compact on the conditions above mentioned, namely, that there should be a companionship only with respect to

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offspring, and that they should live each independent of the other. 11.5.3

There is a peculiarity in the history of the Amazons. In other histories the fabulous and the historical parts are kept distinct. For what is ancient, false, and marvellous is called fable. But history has truth for its object, whether it be old or new, and it either rejects or rarely admits the marvellous. But, with regard to the Amazons, the same facts are related both by modern and by ancient writers; they are marvellous and exceed belief. For who can believe that an army of women, or a city, or a nation, could ever subsist without men? and not only subsist, but make inroads upon the territory of other people, and obtain possession not only of the places near them, and advance even as far as the present Ionia, but even despatch an expedition across the sea to Attica? This is as much as to say that the men of those days were women, and the women men. But even now the same things are told of the Amazons, and the peculiarity of their history is increased by the credit which is given to ancient, in preference to modern, accounts.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.4.3 Str. 11.5.1 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.5.6

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