Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 12.3.25 Str. 12.3.29 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 12.3.32


He also somewhere says that the poet obtained his knowledge of the Paphlagonians, situated in the interior, from persons who had travelled through the country on foot, but that he was not acquainted with the sea-coast any more than with the rest of the territory of Pontus; for otherwise he would have mentioned it by name. We may, on the contrary, after the description which has just been given of the country, retort and say that he has traversed the whole of the sea-coast, and has omitted nothing worthy of record which existed at that time. It is not surprising that he does not mention Heracleia, Amastris, or Sinope, for they were not founded; nor is it strange that he should omit to speak of the interior of the country; nor is it a proof of ignorance not to specify by name many places which were well known, as we have shown in a preceding part of this work.

He says that Homer was ignorant of much that was remarkable in Pontus, as rivers and nations, otherwise he would have mentioned their names. This may be admitted with respect to some very remarkable nations and rivers, as the Scythians, the Palus Mæotis, and the Danube. For he would not have described the Nomades, by characteristic signs, as living on milk, Abii, a people without certain means of subsistence, most just and renowned Hippemolgi, (milkers of mares,) and not distinguished them as Scythians, or Sauromatæ, or Sarmatæ, if, indeed, they had these names among the Greeks (at that time). Nor in mentioning the Thracians and Mysians, who live near the Danube, would he have passed over in silence the Danube itself, one of the largest rivers, particularly as, in other instances, he is inclined to mark the boundaries of places by rivers; nor in speaking of the Cimmerians would he have omitted the Bosporus, or the Mæotis.

-- 303 --

27. With respect then to places not so remarkable, or not famous at that time, or not illustrating the subject of his poem, who can blame the poet for omitting them? As, for example, omitting to mention the Don, famed only as it is for being the boundary of Asia and Europe. The persons however of that time were not accustomed to use the name either of Asia or Europe, nor was the habitable earth divided into three continents; otherwise he would have mentioned them by name on account of their strong characteristic marks, as he mentioned by name Libya (Africa), and the Libs (the south-west wind), blowing from the western parts of Africa. But as the continents were not yet distinguished, it was not necessary that he should mention the Don. There were many things worthy of record, which did not occur to him. For both in actions and in discourse much is done and said without any cause or motive, by merely spontaneously presenting itself to the mind.

It is evident from all these circumstances that every person who concludes that because a certain thing is not mentioned by the poet he was therefore ignorant of it, uses a bad argument; and we must prove by several examples that it is bad, for many persons employ this kind of evidence to a great extent. We must refute them therefore by producing such instances as these which follow, although we shall repeat what has been already said.

If any one should maintain that the poet was not acquainted with a river which he has not mentioned, we should say that his argument is absurd, for he has not mentioned by name even the river Meles, which runs by Smyrna, his birth-place according to many writers, while he has mentioned the rivers Hermus and Hyllus by name, but yet not the Pactolus, [Note] which discharges itself into the same channel as these rivers, and rises in the mountain Tmolus. [Note] He does not mention either Smyrna itself, or the other cities of the Ionians, or most of those of the æolians, although he specifies Miletus, Samos, Lesbos, and Tenedos. He does not mention the Lethæus, which flows beside Magnesia, [Note] nor the Marsyas, which rivers empty themselves into the Mæander, [Note] which he mentions by name, as well as

-- 304 --

the Rhesus, Heptapous, Caresus, and Rhodius, [Note]
Il. xii. 20.
and others, many of which are not more than small streams. While he specifies by name many countries and cities, sometimes he makes an enumeration of rivers and mountains, sometimes he does not do so. He does not mention the rivers in ætolia and Attica, nor many others. And if, in mentioning people that live afar off, he does not mention those who are very near, it is certainly not through ignorance of them, for they were well known to other writers. With respect to people who were all equally near, he does not observe one rule, for some he mentions, and not others, as for instance he mentions the Lycii, and Solymi, but not the Milye, nor Pamphylians, nor Pisidians; the Paphlagonians, Phrygians, and Mysians, but not the Mariandyni, nor Thyni, nor Bithynians, nor Bebryces; the Amazons, but not the Leuco-Syrians, nor Syrians, nor Cappadocians, nor Lycaonians, while he frequently speaks of the Phœnicians, ægyptians, and æthiopians. He mentions the Aleian plain, and the Arimi mountains, but not the nation among which these are situated.

The argument drawn from this is false; the true argument would have been to show that the poet has asserted what is not true. Apollodorus has not succeeded in this attempt, and he has more particularly failed when he ventures to call by the name of fiction the renowned Hippemolgi and Galactophagi. So much then in reply to Apollodorus. I now return to the part of my description which follows next in order. 12.3.28

Above the places about Pharnacia and Trapezus are the Tibareni, and Chaldæi, extending as far as the Lesser Armenia.

The Lesser Armenia is sufficiently fertile. Like Sophene it was always governed by princes who were sometimes in alliance with the other Armenians, and sometimes acting independently. They held in subjection the Chaldæi and Tibareni. Their dominion extended as far as Trapezus and Pharnacia. When Mithridates Eupator became powerful, he made himself master of Colchis, and of all those places which were ceded to him by Antipater the son of Sisis. He bestowed however so much care upon them, that he built seventy-five strongholds, in which he deposited the greatest part of his treasure. The most considerable of these were Hydara, Basgedariza, and [Note]

-- 305 --

Sinoria, a fortress situated on the borders of the Greater Armenia, whence Theophanes parodied the name, and called it Synoria.

All the mountainous range of the Paryadres has many such convenient situations for fortresses, being well supplied with water and timber, it is intersected in many places by abrupt ravines and precipices. Here he built most of the strongholds for keeping his treasure. At last on the invasion of the country by Pompey he took refuge in these extreme parts of the kingdom of Pontus, and occupied a mountain near Dasteira in Acilisene, which was well supplied with water. The Euphrates also was near, which is the boundary between Acilisene and the Lesser Armenia. Mithridates remained there till he was besieged and compelled to fly across the mountains into Colchis, and thence to Bosporus. Pompey built near this same place in the Lesser Armenia Nicopolis, a city which yet subsists, and is well inhabited. 12.3.29

The Lesser Armenia, which was in the possession of different persons at different times, according to the pleasure of the Romans, was at last subject to Archelaus. The Tibareni, however, and Chaldæi, extending as far as Colchis, Pharnacia, and Trapezus, are under the government of Pythodoris, a prudent woman, and capable of presiding over the management of public affairs. She is the daughter of Pythodorus of Tralles. She was the wife of Polemo, and reigned conjointly with him for some time. She succeeded, after his death, to the throne. He died in the country of the Aspurgiani, a tribe of barbarians living about Sindica. She had two sons by Polemo, and a daughter who was married to Cotys the Sapæan. He was treacherously murdered, and she became a widow. She had children by him, the eldest of whom is now king. Of the sons of Pythodoris, one as a private person, administers, together with his mother, the affairs of the kingdom, the other has been lately made king of the Greater Armenia. Pythodoris however married Archelaus, and remained with him till his death. At present she is a widow, and in possession of the countries before mentioned, and of others still more beautiful, of which we shall next speak.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 12.3.25 Str. 12.3.29 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 12.3.32

Powered by PhiloLogic