Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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Let us then transport ourselves to the land opposite the Cinnamon Country, and lying to the east under the same parallel of latitude; we shall there find the country named Taprobane. [Note] This Taprobane is universally believed to be a large island situated in the high seas, and lying to the south opposite India. Its length in the direction of Ethiopia is above 5000 stadia, as they say. There are brought from thence to the Indian markets, ivory, tortoise-shells, and other wares in large quantities. Now if this island is broad in proportion to

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its length, we cannot suppose that the whole distance, [Note] inclusive of the space which separates it from India, is less than 3000 stadia, which is equal to the distance of the southern extremity of the habitable earth from Meroe, since the [southern] extremities of India and Meroe are under the same parallel. It is likely there are more than 3000 stadia, [Note] but taking this number, if we add thereto the 30,000 stadia, which Deimachus states there are between [the southern extremity of India] and the country of the Bactrians and Sogdians, we shall find both of these nations lie beyond the temperate zone and habitable earth. [Note] Who will venture to affirm such to be the case, hearing, as they must, the statement made both by ancients and moderns of the genial climate and fertility of northern India, Hyrcania, Aria, Margiana, [Note] and Bactriana also? These countries are all equally close to the northern side of the Taurus, Bactriana being contiguous to that part of the chain [Note] which forms the boundary of India. A country blessed with such advantages must be very far from uninhabitable. It is said that in Hyrcania each vine produces a metrete [Note] of wine, and each fig tree 60 medimni [Note] of fruit. That the grains of wheat which fall from the husk on to the earth spring up the year following; that bee-hives are in the trees, and the leaves flow with honey. The same may be met with in the part of Media called Matiana, [Note] and also in Saca-

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sena and Araxena, countries of Armenia. In these three it is not so much to be wondered at, since they lie more to the south than Hyrcania, and surpass the rest of the country in the beauty of their climate; but in Hyrcania it is more remarkable. It is said that in Margiana you may frequently meet with a vine whose stock would require two men with outstretched arms to clasp it, and clusters of grapes two cubits long. Aria is described as similarly fertile, the wine being still richer, and keeping perfectly for three generations in unpitched casks. Bactriana, which adjoins Aria, abounds in the same productions, if we except olives. 2.1.15

That there are cold regions in the high and mountainous parts of these countries is not to be wondered at; since in the [more] southern climates the mountains, and even the tablelands, are cold. The districts next the Euxine, in Cappadocia, are much farther north than those adjoining the Taurus. Bagadania, a vast plain, situated between the mountains of Argæus [Note] and Taurus, hardly produces any fruit trees, although south of the Euxine Sea by 3000 stadia; while the territory round Sinope, [Note] Amisus, [Note] and Phanarœa abounds in olives.

The Oxus, [Note] which divides Bactriana from Sogdiana, is said to be of such easy navigation that the wares of India are brought up it into the sea of Hyrcania, [Note] and thence successively by various other rivers to the districts near the Euxine. [Note] 2.1.16

Can one find any fertility to compare with this near to the Dnieper, or that part of Keltica next the ocean, [Note] where the vine either does not grow at all, or attains no maturity. [Note] However, in the more southerly portions of these districts, [Note]

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close to the sea, and those next the Bosphorus, [Note] the vine brings its fruit to maturity, although the grapes are exceedingly small, and the vines are covered up all the winter. And in the parts near the mouth of the Palus Mæotis, the frost is so strong that a general of Mithridates defeated the barbarians here in a cavalry engagement during the winter, and on the very same spot in a naval fight in summer, when the ice was thawed. Eratosthenes furnishes us with the following inscription, which he found in the temple of æsculapius at Panticapæeon, [Note] on a brazen vase which had been broken by the frost:—

If any one doubts the intensity of our winter's cold, let him believe when he sees this vase. The priest Stratius placed it here, not because he considered it a worthy offering to the god, but as a proof of the severity of our winter.

Since therefore the provinces we have just enumerated [are so superior in climate, that they] cannot be compared with the countries surrounding the Bosphorus, nor even the regions of Amisus and Sinope, (for every one will admit that they are much superior to these latter,) it would be idle to compare them with the districts near the Borysthenes and the north of Keltica; for we have shown that their temperature is not so low as Amisus, Sinope, Byzantium, and Marseilles, which are universally acknowledged to be 3700 stadia south of the Dnieper and Keltica.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 2.1.12 Str. 2.1.15 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 2.1.18

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