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

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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

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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

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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.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 12.2.4 Str. 12.2.9 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 12.3.1

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