Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.7.2 Str. 11.8.2 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.8.8


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.


IN proceeding from the Hyrcanian Sea towards the east, on the right hand are the mountains which the Greeks call Taurus, extending as far as India. They begin from Pamphylia and Cilicia, and stretch to this part from the west in a continuous line, bearing different names in different places.

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The northern parts [Note] of this range are occupied first by Gelæ, Cadusii, and Amardi, as we have said, and by some tribes of Hyrcanians; then follow, as we proceed towards the east and the Ochus, the nation of the Parthians, then that of the Margiani and Arii, and the desert country which the river Sarnius separates from Hyrcania. The mountain, which extends to this country, or within a small distance of it, from Armenia, is called Parachoathras.

From the Hyrcanian sea to the Arii are about 6000 stadia. [Note] Next follow Bactriana, Sogdiana, and lastly nomade Scythians. The Macedonians gave the name of Caucasus to all the mountains which follow after Ariana, [Note] but among the barbarians the heights and the northern parts of the Parapomisus were called Emoda, and Mount Imaus; [Note] and other names of this kind were assigned to each portion of this range. 11.8.2

On the left hand [Note] opposite to these parts are situated the Scythian and nomadic nations, occupying the whole of the northern side. Most of the Scythians, beginning from the Caspian Sea, are called Dahæ Scythæ, and those situated more towards the east Massagetæ and Sacæ; the rest have the common appellation of Scythians, but each separate tribe has its peculiar name. All, or the greatest part of them, are nomades. The best known tribes are those who deprived the Greeks of Bactriana, the Asii, Pasiani, (Asiani?) Tochari, and Sacarauli, who came from the country on the other side of the Iaxartes, [Note] opposite the Sacæ and Sogdiani, and which country was also occupied by Sacæ; some tribes of the Dahæ are surnamed Aparni, some Xanthii, others Pissuri. [Note]

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The Aparni approach the nearest of any of these people to llyrcania, and to the Caspian Sea. The others extend as far as the country opposite to Aria. 11.8.3

Between these people, Hyrcania, and Parthia as far as Aria lies a vast and arid desert, which they crossed by long journeys, and overran Hyrcania, the Nesæan country, and the plains of Parthia. These people agreed to pay a tribute on condition of having permission to overrun the country at stated times, and to carry away the plunder. But when these incursions became more frequent than the agreement allowed, war ensued, afterwards peace was made, and then again war was renewed. Such is the kind of life which the other Nomades also lead, continually attacking their neighbours, and then making peace with them. 11.8.4

The Sacæ had made incursions similar to those of the Cimmerians and Treres, some near their own country, others at a greater distance. They occupied Bactriana, and got possession of the most fertile tract in Armenia, which was called after their own name, Sacasene. They advanced even as far as the Cappadocians, those particularly situated near the Euxine; who are now called Pontici. When they were assembled together and feasting on the division of the booty, they were attacked by night by the Persian generals who were then stationed in that quarter, and were utterly exterminated. The Persians raised a mound of earth in the form of a hill over a rock in the plain, (where this occurred,) and fortified it. They erected there a temple to Anaïtis and tile gods Omanus and Anadatus, Persian deities who have a common altar. [Note] They also instituted an annual festival, (in memory of the event,) the Sacæa, which the occupiers of Zela, for this is the name of the place, celebrate to this day. It is a small city chiefly appropriated to the sacred attendants. Pompey added to it a considerable tract of territory, the inhabitants of which he collected within the walls. It was one of the cities which he settled after the overthrow of Mithridates. 11.8.5

Such is the account which is given of the Sacæ by some writers. Others say, that Cyrus in an expedition against the

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Sacæ was defeated, and fled. He advanced with his army to the spot where he had left his stores, consisting of large supplies of every kind, particularly of wine; he stopped a short time to refresh his army, and set out in the evening, as though he continued his flight, the tents being left full of provisions. He proceeded as far as he thought requisite, and then halted. The Sacæ pursued, who, finding the camp abandoned and full of the means of gratifying their appetites, indulged themselves without restraint. Cyrus then returned and found them drunk and frantic; some were killed, stretched on the ground drowsy or asleep; others, dancing and maddened with wine, fell defenceless on the weapons of their enemies. Nearly all of them perished. Cyrus ascribed this success to the gods; lie consecrated the day to the goddess worshipped in his own country, and called it Sacæ. Wherever there is a temple of this goddess, there the Sacœan festival, a sort of Bacchanalian feast, is celebrated, in which both men and women, dressed in the Scythian habit, pass day and night in drinking and wanton play.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.7.2 Str. 11.8.2 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.8.8

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