Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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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. 11.8.6

The Massagetæ signalized their bravery in the war with Cyrus, of which many writers have published accounts; we must get our information from them. Such particulars as the following are narrated respecting this nation; some tribes inhabit mountains, some plains, others live among marshes formed by the rivers, others on the islands among the marshes. The Araxes is said to be the river which is the chief cause of inundating the country; it is divided into various branches and discharges itself by many mouths into the other sea [Note] towards the north, but by one only into the Hyrcanian Gulf. The Massagetæ regard no other deity than the sun, and to his honour they sacrifice a horse. Each man marries only one wife, but they have intercourse with the wives of each other without any concealment. He who has intercourse with the wife of another man hangs up his quiver on a waggon, and lies with her openly. They account the best mode of death to be chopped up when they grow old with the flesh of sheep, and both to be devoured together. Those who die of' disease are cast out as impious, and only fit to be the prey of wild beasts; they are excellent horsemen, and also fight well on foot. They use bows, swords, breastplates, and sagares

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of brass, they wear golden belts, and turbans [Note] on their heads in battle. Their horses have bits of gold, and golden breastplates; they have no silver, iron in small quantity, but gold and brass in great plenty. 11.8.7

Those who live in the islands have no corn-fields. Their food consists of roots and wild fruits. Their clothes are made of the bark of trees, for they have no sheep. They press out and drink the juice of the fruit of certain trees.

The inhabitants of the marshes eat fish. They are clothed in the skins of seals, which come upon the island from the sea.

The mountaineers subsist on wild fruits. They have besides a few sheep, but they kill them sparingly, and keep them for the sake of their wool and milk. Their clothes they variegate by steeping them in dyes, which produce a colour not easily effaced.

The inhabitants of the plains, although they possess land, do not cultivate it, but derive their subsistence from their flocks, and from fish, after the manner of the nomades and Scythians. I have frequently described a certain way of life common to all these people. Their burial-places and their manners are alike, and their whole manner of living is independent, but rude, savage, and hostile; in their compacts, however, they are simple and without deceit.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.7.5 Str. 11.8.5 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.8.9

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