Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 12.1 Str. 12.2 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 12.3

CHAPTER II. 12.2.1

MELITENE resembles Commagene, for the whole of it is planted with fruit-trees, and is the only part of all Cappadocia which is planted in this manner. It produces oil, and the wine Monarites, which vies with the wines of Greece. It is situated opposite to Sophene, having the river Euphrates flowing between it and Commagene, which borders upon it. n the country on the other side of the river is Tomisa, a considerable fortress of the Cappadocians. It was sold to the prince of Sophene for a hundred talents. Lucullus presented it afterwards as a reward of valour to the Cappadocian prince for his services in the war against Mithridates. 12.2.2

Cataonia is a plain, wide and hollow, [Note] and produces everything except evergreen trees. It is surrounded by mountains, and among others by the Amanus on the side towards the south, a mass separated from the Cilician Taurus, and also by the Anti-Taurus, [Note] a mass rent off in a contrary

-- 279 --

direction. The Amanus extends from Cataonia to Cilicia, and the Syrian sea towards the west and south. In this intervening space it comprises the whole of the gulf of Issus, and the plains of the Cilicians which lie towards the Taurus. But the Anti-Taurus inclines to the north, and a little also to the east, and then terminates in the interior of the country. 12.2.3

In the Anti-Taurus are deep and narrow valleys, in which is situated Comana, [Note] and the temple of Enyus (Bellona). which they call Ma. It is a considerable city. It contains a very great multitude of persons who at times are actuated by divine impulse, and of servants of the temple. It is in- habited by Cataonians, who are chiefly under the command of the priest, but in other respects subject to the king. The former presides over the temple, and has authority over the servants belonging to it, who, at the time that I was there, exceeded in number six thousand persons, including men and women. A large tract of land adjoins the temple, the revenue of which the priest enjoys. He is second in rank in Cappadocia after the king, and, in general, the priests are descended from the same family as the kings. Orestes, when he came hither with his sister Iphigenia from Tauric Scythia, [Note] is thought to have introduced the sacred rites performed in honour of Diana Tauropolus, and to have deposited here the tresses (Coman, κόμην.) of mourning, from which the city had the name of Comana.

The river Sarus flows through this city, and passes out through the valleys of the Taurus to the plains of Cilicia, and to the sea lying below them. 12.2.4

The Pyramus, [Note] which has its source in the middle of the plain, is navigable throughout Cataonia. There is a large subterraneous channel, through which the water flows underground to a great distance, and then may be seen springing up again to the surface. If an arrow is let down into the pit from above, the resistance of the water is so great that it is scarcely immersed. Although it pursues its course with great [Note] depth and breadth, it undergoes an extraordinary contraction of its size by the time it has reached the Taurus. There is also an extraordinary fissure in the mountain, through which the stream is carried. For, as in rocks which have burst and split in two

-- 280 --

parts, the projections in one correspond so exactly with the follows in the other that they might even be fitted together, so here I have seen the rocks at the distance of two or three plethra, overhanging the river on each side, and nearly reaching to the summit of the mountain, with hollows on one side answering to projections on the other. The bed between (the mountains) is entirely rock; it has a deep and very narrow fissure through the middle, so that a dog and a hare might leap across it. This is the channel of the river; it is full to the margin, and in breadth resembles a canal. [Note] But on account of the winding of its course, the great contraction of the stream, and the depth of the ravine, a noise, like that of thunder, strikes at a distance on the ears of those who approach it. In passing out through the mountains, it brings down from Cataonia, and from the Cilician plains, so great a quantity of alluvial soil to the sea, that an oracle to the following effect is reported to have been uttered respecting it: The time will come, when Pyramus, with its deep whirlpools, by ad- vaucing on the sea-shore, will reach the sacred Cyprus.

Something similar to this takes place in Egypt. The Nile is continually converting the sea into continent by an accumulation of earth; accordingly Herodotus calls Egypt a gift of the river, and Homer says, that the Pharos was formerly out at sea, not as it is at present connected with the mainland of Egypt. 12.2.5

[The third [Note] in rank is the Dacian priesthood of Jupiter, inferior to this, but still of importance.] There is at this place a body of salt water, having the circumference of a considerable lake. It is shut in by lofty and perpendicular hills, so that the descent is by steps. The water it is said does not increase in quantity, nor has it anywhere an apparent outlet. 12.2.6

Neither the plain of the Cataonians nor Melitene have any city, but strongholds upon the mountains, as Azamora, and Dastarcum, round which runs the river Carmalas. [Note] There is also the temple of the Cataonian Apollo, which is vener-

-- 281 --

ated throughout the whole of Cappadocia, and which the Cappadocians have taken as a model of their own temples. Nor have the other provinces, except two, any cities. Of the rest, Sargarausene has a small town Herpa, and a river Carmalas, which also discharges itself into the Cilician sea. [Note] In the other provinces is Argos, a lofty fortress near the Taurus, and Nora, now called Neroassus, in which Eumenes sustained a long siege. In our time it was a treasure-hold of Sisinus, who attempted to take possession of the kingdom of Cappadocia. To him belonged Cadena, a royal seat, built after the form of a city. Situated upon the borders of Lycaonia is Garsauira, a village town, said to have been formerly the capital of the country.

In Morimene, among the Venasii, is a temple of Jupiter, with buildings capable of receiving nearly three thousand servants of the temple. It has a tract of sacred land attached to it, very fertile, and affording to the priest a yearly revenue of fifteen talents. The priest is appointed for life like the priest at Comana, and is next to him in rank. 12.2.7

Two provinces only have cities. In the Tyanitis is Tyana, [Note] lying at the foot of the Taurus at the Cilician Gates, [Note] where are the easiest and the most frequented passes into Cilicia and Syria. It is called, Eusebeia at the Taurus. Tyanitis is fertile, and the greatest part of it consists of plains. Tyana is built upon the mound of Semiramis, which is fortified with good walls. At a little distance from this city are Castabala and Cybistra, towns which approach still nearer to the mountain. At Castabala is a temple of Diana Perasia, where, it is said, the priestesses walk with naked feet unhurt upon burning coals. To this place some persons apply the story respecting Orestes and Diana Tauropolus, and say that the goddess was called Perasia, because she was conveyed from beyond (πέαθεν) sea.

In Tyanitis, one of the ten provinces above mentioned, is the city Tyana. But with these I do not reckon the cities that were afterwards added, Castabala, and Cybistra, and those in Cilicia Tracheia, to which belongs Elæussa, a small

-- 282 --

fertile island, which Archelaus furnished with excellent buildings, where he passed the greater part of his time.

In the Cilician province, as it is called, is Mazaca, [Note] the capital of the nation. It is also called Eusebeia, with the addition at the Argæus, for it is situated at the foot of the Argeus, [Note] the highest mountain in that district; its summit is always covered with snow. Persons who ascend it (but they are not many) say that both the Euxine and the sea of Issus may be seen from thence in clear weather.

Mazaca is not adapted in other respects by nature for the settlement of a city, for it is without water, and unfortified. Through the neglect of the governors, it is without walls, perhaps intentionally, lest, trusting to the wall as to a fortification, the inhabitants of a plain, which has hills situated above it, and not exposed to the attacks of missile weapons, should addict themselves to robbery. The country about, although it consists of plains, is entirely barren and uncultivated, for the soil is sandy, and rocky underneath. At a little distance further there are burning plains, and pits full of fire to an extent of many stadia, so that the necessaries of life are brought from a distance. What seems to be a peculiar advantage (abundance of wood) is a source of danger. For though nearly the whole of Cappadocia is without timber, the Argæus is surrounded by a forest, so that wood may be procured near at hand, yet even the region lying below the forest contains fire in many parts, and springs of cold water; but as neither the fire nor the water break out upon the surface, the greatest part of the country is covered with herbage. In some parts the bottom is marshy, and flames burst out from the ground by night. Those acquainted with the country collect wood with caution; but there is danger to others, and particularly to cattle, which fall into these hidden pits of fire. 12.2.8

In the plain in front of the city, and about 40 stadia from it, is a river of the name of Melas, [Note] whose source is in ground lower than the level of the city. It is useless to the

-- 283 --

inhabitants, because it does not flow from an elevated situation. It spreads abroad in marshes and lakes, and in the summertime corrupts the air round the city. A valuable stone quarry is rendered almost useless by it. For there are extensive beds of stone, from which the Mazaceni obtain an abundant supply of materials for building, but the slabs, being covered with water, are not easily detached by the workmen. These are the marshes which in every part are subject to take fire.

Ariarathes the king filled in some narrow channels by which the Melas entered the Halys, and converted the neighbouring plain into a wide lake. There he selected some small islands like the Cyclades, where he passed his time in boyish and frivolous diversions. The barrier, however, was broken down all at once, and the waters again flowed abroad and swelled the Halys, which swept away a large part of the Cappadocian territory, and destroyed many buildings and plantations; it also damaged a considerable part of the country of the Galatians, who occupy Phrygia. In compensation for this injury he paid a fine of three hundred talents to the inhabitants, who had referred the matter to the decision of the Romans. The same was the case at Herpa; for he there obstructed the stream of the Carmalas, and, on the bursting of the dyke, the water damaged some of the places in the Cilician territories about Mallus; he was obliged to make compensation to those who had sustained injury. 12.2.9

Although the territory of the Mazaceni is destitute in many respects of natural advantages, it seems to have been preferred by the kings as a place of residence, because it was nearest the centre of those districts which supplied timber, stone for building, and fodder, of which a very large quantity was required for the subsistence of their cattle. Their city was almost a camp. The security of their persons and treasure [Note] depended upon the protection afforded by numerous fortresses, some of which belonged to the king, others to their friends.

Mazaca is distant from Pontus [Note] about 800 stadia to the south, and from the Euphrates a little less than double that distance; from the Cilician Gates and the camp of Cyrus, a

-- 284 --

journey of six days by way of Tyana, [Note] which is situated about the middle of the route, and is distant from Cybistra 300 stadia. The Mazaceni adopt the laws of Charondas, and elect a Nomōdist, (or Chanter of the Laws,) who, like the Jurisconsults of the Romans, is the interpreter of their laws. Tigranes the Armenian, when he overran Cappadocia, treated them with great severity. He forced them to abandon their settlements, and go into Mesopotamia; they peopled Tigranocerta, chiefly by their numbers. Afterwards, upon the capture of Tigranocerta, those who were able returned to their own country. 12.2.10

The breadth of the country from Pontus to the Taurus is about 1800 stadia; the length from Lycaonia and Phrygia, as far as the Euphrates to the east, and Armenia, is about 3000 stadia. The soil is fertile, and abounds with fruits of the earth, particularly corn, and with cattle of all kinds. Although it lies more to the south than Pontus, it is colder. Bagadania, although a plain country, and situated more towards the south than any district in Cappadocia, (for it lies at the foot of the Taurus,) produces scarcely any fruit-bearing trees. It affords pasture for wild asses, as does a large portion of the other parts of the country, particularly that about Garsauira, Lycaonia, and Morimene.

In Cappadocia is found the red earth called the Sinopic, which is better than that of any other country. The Spanish only can rival it. It had the name of Sinopic, because the merchants used to bring it down from Sinope, before the traffic of the Ephesians extended as far as the people of Cappadocia. It is said that even plates of crystal and of the onyx stone were discovered by the miners of Archelaus near the country of the Galatians. There was a place where was found a white stone of the colour of ivory in pieces of the size of small whetstones, from which were made handles for small swords. Another place produced large masses of transparent stone for windows, which were exported.

The boundary of Pontus and Cappadocia is a mountainous range parallel to the Taurus, commencing from the western extremities of Chammanene, (where stands Dasmenda, a fortress built upon a precipice,) and extending to the eastern parts of

-- 285 --

Laviansene. Both Chammanene and Laviansene are pro- vinces of Cappadocia. 12.2.11

When the Romans, after the defeat of Antiochus, first governed Asia, they made treaties of friendship and alliance both with the nations and with the kings. This honour was conferred upon the other kings separately and independently, but upon the king of Cappadocia in common with the nation. On the extinction of the royal race, the Romans admitted the independence of the Cappadocians according to the treaty of friendship and alliance which they had made with the nation. The deputies excused themselves from accepting the liberty which was offered to them, declaring that they were unable to bear it, and requested that a king might be appointed. The Romans were surprised that any people should be unwilling to enjoy liberty, but permitted [Note] them to elect by suffrage any one they pleased from among themselves. They elected Ariobarzanes. The race became extinct in the third generation. Archelaus, who was not connected with the nation, was appointed king by Antony.

So much respecting the Greater Cappadocia.

With regard to Cilicia Tracheia, which was annexed to the Greater Cappadocia, it will be better to describe it when we give an account of the whole of Cilicia.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 12.1 Str. 12.2 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 12.3

Powered by PhiloLogic