Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.5.4 Str. 11.6.2 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.7.3


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

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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. 11.6.3

For these authors, having observed that those who professedly were writers of fables obtained repute and success, supposed that they also should make their writings agreeable,

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if, under the form of history, they related what they had never seen nor heard, (not at least from eye-witnesses,) and had no other object than to please and surprise the reader. A person would more readily believe the stories of the heroes in Hesiod, Homer, and in the tragic poets, than Ctesias, Herodotus, Hellanicus, and writers of this kind. 11.6.4

We cannot easily credit the generality of the historians of Alexander, for they practise deception with a view to enhance the glory of Alexander; the expedition also was directed to the extremities of Asia, at a great distance from our country, and it is difficult to ascertain or detect the truth or falsehood of what is remote. The dominion of the Romans and of the Parthians has added very much to former discoveries, and the writers who speak of these people describe nations and places, where certain actions were performed, in a manner more likely to produce belief than preceding historians, for they had better opportunities of personal observation.


THE nomades, or wandering tribes, who live on the left side of the coast on entering the Caspian Sea, are called by the moderns Dahæ, and surnamed Parni. [Note] Then there intervenes a desert tract, which is followed by Hyrcania; here the Caspian spreads like a deep sea till it approaches the Median and Armenian mountains. The shape of these hills at the foot is lunated. [Note] Their extremities terminate at the sea, and form the recess of the bay.

A small part of this country at the foot of the mountains, as far as the heights, if we reckon from the sea, is inhabited by some tribes of Albanians and Armenians, but the greater portion by Gelæ, Cadusii, Amardi, Vitii, and Anariacæ. It is said, that some Parrhasii were settled together with the Anariace, who are now called Parrhasii, (Parsii?) and that the $SAEnianes built a wailed city in the territory of the Vitii, which city is

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now called æniana (ænia). Grecian armour, brazen vessels, and sepulchres are shown there. There also is a city Anariacæ, in which it is said an oracle is shown, where the answer is given to those who consult it, during sleep, [and some vestiges of Greek colonization, but all these] tribes are predatory, and more disposed to war than husbandry, which arises from the rugged nature of the country. The greater part of the coast at the foot of the mountainous region is occupied by Cadusii, to the extent of nearly 5000 stadia, according to Patrocles, who thinks that this sea equals the Euxine in size. These countries are sterile.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.5.4 Str. 11.6.2 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.7.3

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