Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.9.1 Str. 11.9.3 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.11.3

11.9.1

PARTHIA is not an extensive tract of country; for this reason it was united with the Hyrcani for the purpose of paying tribute under the Persian dominion and afterwards, during a long period when the Macedonians were masters of the country. Besides its small extent, it is thickly wooded, mountainous, and produces nothing; so that the kings with their multitude of followers pass with great speed through the country, which is unable to furnish subsistence for such numbers even for a short time. At present it is augmented in extent. Comisene [Note] and Chorene are parts of Parthiene, and perhaps also the country as far as the Caspian Gates, Rhagæ, and the Tapyri, which formerly belonged to Media. Apameia and Heracleia are cities in the neighbourhood of Rhagæ.

From the Caspian Gates to Rhagæ are 500 stadia according to Apollodorus, and to Hecatompylos, the royal seat of the Parthians, 1260 stadia. Rhagæ [Note] is said to have had its name from the earthquakes which occurred in that country, by which many cities and two thousand villages, as Poseidonius relates, were overthrown. The Tapyri are said to live between the Derbices and the Hyrcani. Historians say, that it is a custom among the Tapyri to surrender the married women to other men, even when the husbands have had two or three children by them, as Cato surrendered Marcia in our times, according to an ancient custom of the Romans, to Hortensius, at his request. 11.9.2

Disturbances having arisen in the countries beyond the Taurus in consequence of the kings of Syria and Media, who possessed the tract of which we are speaking, being engaged in other affairs, [Note] those who were intrusted with the

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government of it occasioned first the revolt of Bactriana; then Euthydemus and his party the revolt of all the country near that province. Afterwards Arsaces, a Scythian, (with the Parni, called nomades, a tribe of the Dahæ, who live on the banks of the Ochus,) invaded Parthia, and made himself master of it. At first both Arsaces and his successors were weakened by maintaining wars with those who had been deprived of their territory. Afterwards they became so powerful, in consequence of their successful warfare, continually depriving their neighbours of portions of their territory, that at last they took possession of all the country within the Euphrates. They deprived Eucratidas, and then the Scythians, by force of arms, of a part of Bactriana. They now have an empire comprehending so large an extent of country, and so many nations, that it almost rivals that of the Romans in magnitude. This is to be attributed to their mode of life and manners, which have indeed much of the barbarous and Scythian character, but are very well adapted for establishing dominion, and for insuring success in war. 11.9.3

They say that the Dahæ Parni were an emigrant tribe from the Dahæ above the Mæotis, who are called Xandii and Parii. But it is not generally acknowledged that Dahæ are to be found among the Scythians above the Meotis, yet from these Arsaces according to some was descended; according to others he was a Bactrian, and withdrawing himself from the increasing power of Diodotus, occasioned the revolt of Parthia.

We have enlarged on the subject of the Parthian customs in the sixth book of historical commentaries, and in the second of those, which are a sequel to Polybius: we shall omit what we said, in order to avoid repetition; adding this only, that Poseidonius affirms that the council of the Parthians is composed of two classes, one of relatives, (of the royal family,) and another of wise men and magi, by both of which kings are chosen.

CHAPTER X. 11.10.1

ARIA and Margiana, which are the best districts in this portion of Asia, are partly composed of valleys enclosed by

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mountains, and partly of inhabited plains. Some tribes of Seenitæ (dwellers in tents) occupy the mountains; the plains are watered by the rivers Arius and by the Margus.

Aria borders upon Bactriana, and the mountain [Note] which has Bactriana at its foot. It is distant from [the] Hyrcania[n sea] about 6000 stadia.

Drangiana as far as Carmania furnished jointly with Aria payment of the tribute. The greater part of this country is situated at the foot of the southern side of the mountains; some tracts however approach the northern side opposite Aria.

Arachosia, which belongs to the territory of Aria, is not far distant; it lies at the foot of the southern side of the mountains, and extends to the river Indus.

The length of Aria is about 2000 stadia, and the breadth of the plain 300 stadia. Its cities are Artacaëna, Alexandreia, and Achaia, which are called after the names of their founders.

The soil produces excellent wines, which may be kept for three generations in unpitched vessels. 11.10.2

Margiana is like this country, but the plain is surrounded by deserts. Antiochus Soter admired its fertility; he enclosed a circle of 1500 stadia with a wall, and founded a city, Antiocheia. The soil is well adapted to vines. They say that a vine stem has been frequently seen there which would require two men to girth it, and bunches of grapes two cubits in size.

CHAPTER XI.


Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 11.9.1 Str. 11.9.3 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 11.11.3

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