Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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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. 11.7.2

Hyrcania [Note] is very fertile, and extensive, consisting for the most part of plains, and has considerable cities dispersed throughout it, as Talabroce, Samariane, Carta, and the royal residence, Tape, [Note] which is said to be situated a little above the sea, and distant 1400 stadia from the Caspian Gates. The following facts are narrated as indications of the fertility of the country. [Note] The vine produces a metretes [Note] of wine; the fig-tree sixty medimni [Note] of fruit; the corn grows from the seed which falls out of the stalk; bees make their hives in the trees, and honey drops from among the leaves. This is the case also in the territory of Matiane in Media, and in the Sacasene, and Araxene of Armenia. [Note]

But neither this country, nor the sea which is named after it, has received proper care and attention from the inhabitants, for there are no vessels upon the sea, nor is it turned to any use. According to some writers there are islands on it, capable of being inhabited, in which gold is found. The cause of this neglect is this; the first governors of Hyrcania were barbarians, Medes, and Persians, and lastly, people who were more oppressive than these, namely, Parthians. The whole of the neighbouring country was the haunt of robbers and wandering tribes, and abounded with tracts of desert land. For a short time Macedonians were sovereigns of the country, but being engaged in war were unable to attend to remote

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possessions. Aristobulus says that Hyrcania has forests and produces the oak, but not the pitch pine, [Note] nor the fir, [Note] nor the pine, [Note] but that India abounds with these trees.

Nesæa [Note] belongs to Hyrcania, but some writers make it an independent district. 11.7.3

Hyrcania is watered by the rivers Ochus and Oxus as far as their entrance into the sea. The Ochus flows through Nesæa, but some writers say that the Ochus empties itself into the Oxus.

Aristobulus avers that the Oxus was the largest river, except those in India, which he had seen in Asia. He says also that it is navigable with ease, (this circumstance both Aristobulus and Eratosthenes borrow from Patrocles,) and that large quantities of Indian merchandise are conveyed by it to the Hyrcanian Sea, and are transferred from thence into Albania by the Cyrus, and through the adjoining countries to the Euxine. The Ochus is not often mentioned by the ancients, but Apollodorus, the author of the Parthica, frequently mentions it, [and describes it] as flowing very near the Parthians. 11.7.4

Many additional falsehoods were invented respecting this sea, to flatter the ambition of Alexander and his love of glory; for, as it was generally acknowledged that the river Tanaïs separated Europe from Asia throughout its whole course, and that a large part of Asia, lying between this sea and the Tanaïs, had never been subjected to the power of the Macedonians, it was resolved to invent an expedition, in order that, according to fame at least, Alexander might seem to have conquered those countries. They therefore made the lake Mæotis, which receives the Tanaïs, and the Caspian Sea, which also they call a lake, one body of water, affirming that there was a subterraneous opening between both, and that one was part of the other. Polycleitus produces proofs to show that this sea is a lake, for instance, that it breeds serpents, and that the water is sweetish. [Note] That it was not a dif- [Note]

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stance of the Tanaïs discharging itself into it. From the same mountains in India, where the Ochus and the Oxus rise, many other rivers take their course, and among these the laxartes, which like the former empties itself into the Caspian Sea, although it is the most northerly of them all. This river then they called Tanaïs, and alleged, as a proof that it was the Tanaïs mentioned by Polycleitus, that the country on the other side of the river produced the fir-tree, and that the Scethians there used arrows made of fir-wood. It was a proof also that the country on the other side of the river was a part of Europe and not of Asia, that Upper and Eastern Asia do not produce the fir-tree. But Eratosthenes says that the fir does grow even in India, and that Alexander built his ships of that wood. Eratosthenes collects many things of this kind, with a view to show their contradictory character. But I have said enough about them. 11.7.5

Among the peculiarities recorded of the Hyrcanian sea, Eudoxus and others relate the following. There is a certain coast in front of the sea hollowed out into caverns, between which and the sea there lies a flat shore. Rivers on reaching this coast descend from the precipices above with sufficient force to dart the water into the sea without wetting the intervening shore, so that even an army could pass underneath sheltered by the stream above. The inhabitants frequently resort to this place for the purposes of festivity and of performing sacrifices, one while reclining beneath the caverns, at another basking in the sun (even) beneath the fall of water. They divert themselves in various ways, having in sight on each side the sea and shore, the latter of which by the dew [and moisture of the falls] is rendered a grassy and flowery meadow.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.6 Str. 11.7 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.8

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