Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.5.2 Str. 11.5.7 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.7.1


Stories circulated for the purpose of exalting the fame [of eminent persons] are not received with equal favour by all; the object of the inventors was flattery rather than truth;

-- 238 --

they transferred, for example, the Caucasus to the mountains of India, and to the eastern sea, which approaches close to them, from the mountains situated above Colchis, and the Euxine Sea. These are the mountains to which the Greeks give the name of Caucasus, and are distant more than 30,000 stadia from India. Here they lay the scene of Prometheus and his chains, for these were the farthest places towards the east with which the people of those times were acquainted. The expeditions of Bacchus and of Hercules against the Indi indicate a mythological story of later date, for Hercules is said to have released Prometheus a thousand years after he was first chained to the rock. It was more glorious too for Alexander to subjugate Asia as far as the mountains of India, than to the recess only of the Euxine Sea and the Caucasus The celebrity, and the name of the mountain, together with the persuasion that Jason and his companions had accomplished the most distant of all expeditions when they had arrived in the neighbourhood of the Caucasus, and the tradition that Prometheus had been chained on Caucasus at the extremity of the earth, induced writers to suppose that they should gratify the king by transferring the name of the mountain to India. 11.5.6

The highest points of the actual Caucasus are the most southerly, and lie near Albania, Iberia, the Colchi, and Heniochi. They are inhabited by the people whom I have mentioned as assembling at Dioscurias. They resort thither chiefly for the purpose of procuring salt. Of these tribes some occupy the heights; others live in wooded valleys, and subsist chiefly on the flesh of wild animals, wild fruits, and milk. The heights are impassable in winter; in summer they are ascended by fastening on the feet shoes as wide as drums, made of raw hide, and furnished with spikes on account of the snow and ice. The natives in descending with their loads slide down seated upon skins, which is the practice in Media, Atropatia, and at Mount Masius in Armenia, but there they fasten circular disks of wood with spikes to the soles of their feet. Such then is the nature of the heights of Caucasus. 11.5.7

On descending to the country lying at the foot of these heights the climate is more northerly, but milder, for the land below the heights joins the plains of the Siraces. There are some tribes of Troglodytæ who inhabit caves on account

-- 239 --

of the cold. There is plenty [Note] of grain to be had in the country.

Next to the Troglodytee are Chamæcœt, [Note] and a tribe called Polyphagi (the voracious), and the villages of the Eisadici, who are able to cultivate the ground because they are not altogether exposed to the north. 11.5.8

Immediately afterwards follow shepherd tribes, situated between the Mæotis and the Caspian Sea, Nabiani, Pangani, [Note] the tribes also of the Siraces and Aorsi.

The Aorsi and Siraces seem to be a fugitive people from parts situated above. The Aorsi lie more to the north. [Note]

Abeacus, king of the Siraces, when Pharnases occupied the Bosporus, equipped 20,000 horse, and Spadines, king of the Aorsi 200,000, and the Upper Aorsi even a larger body, for they were masters of a greater extent of territory, and nearly the largest part of the coast of the Caspian Sea was under their power. They were thus enabled to transport on camels the merchandise of India and Babylonia, receiving it from Armenians and Medes. They wore gold also in their dress in consequence of their wealth.

The Aorsi live on the banks of the Tanaïs, and the Siraces on those of Achardeus, which rises in Caucasus, and dis- charges itself into the Mæotis.

CHAPTER VI. 11.6.1

THE second portion of northern Asia begins from the Caspian Sea, where the first terminates. This sea is called also the Hyrcanian Sea. We must first speak of this sea, and of the nations that live near its shores.

It is a bay extending from the Ocean to the south. At its commencement it is very narrow; as it advances further inwards, and particularly towards the extremity, it widens to the extent of about 500 stadia. The voyage from the entrance

-- 240 --

to the extremity may exceed that a little, the entrance approaching very near the uninhabited regions.

Eratosthenes says that the navigation of this sea was known to the Greeks, that the part of the voyage along the coast of the Albanians and Cadusii [Note] comprised 5400 stadia; and the part along the country of the Anariaci, Mardi, [or Amardi,] and Hyrcani, as far as the mouth of the river Oxus, [Note] 4800 stadia, and thence to the Iaxartes [Note] 2400 stadia.

But with respect to the places situated in this portion of Asia, and to those lying so far removed from our own country, we must not understand the accounts of writers in too literal a sense, particularly with regard to distances. 11.6.2

Upon sailing into the Caspian, on the right hand, contiguous to the Europeans, Scythians and Sarmatians occupy the country between the Tanaïs and this sea; they are chiefly Normades, or shepherd tribes, of whom I have already spoken. On the left hand are the Eastern Scythian Nomades, who extend as far as the Eastern sea, and India.

The ancient Greek historians called all the nations towards the north by the common name of Scythians, and Kelto-Scy- thians. Writers still more ancient than these called the nations living above the Euxine, Danube, and Adriatic, Hyperboreans, Sauromatæ, and Arimaspi. [Note] But in speaking of the nations on the other side the Caspian Sea, they called some Sacæ, [Note] others Massagetæ. They were unable to give any exact account of them, although they relate the history of the war of Cyrus with the Massagetæ. Concerning these nations no one has ascertained the truth, and the ancient histories of Persia, Media, and Syria have not obtained much credit on account of the credulity of the writers and their love of fable.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.5.2 Str. 11.5.7 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.7.1

Powered by PhiloLogic