Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 3.2.7 Str. 3.2.10 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 3.2.13


Posidonius, in praising the amount and excellence of the metals, cannot refrain from his accustomed rhetoric, and becomes quite enthusiastic in exaggeration. He tells us we are not to disbelieve the fable, that formerly the forests having been set on fire, the earth, which was loaded with silver and gold, melted, and threw up these metals to the surface, forasmuch as every mountain and wooded hill seemed to be heaped up with money by a lavish fortune. Altogether (he remarks) any one seeing these places, could only describe them as the inexhaustible treasuries of nature, or the unfailing ex- chequer of some potentate; for not only, he tells us, is this land rich itself, but riches abound beneath it. So that amongst these people the subterraneous regions should not be regarded as the realms of Pluto, but of Plutus. Such is the flourished style in which he speaks on this subject, that you would fancy

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his turgid language had been dug from a mine itself. Dis- coursing on the diligence of the miners, he applies to them the remark [of Demetrius] of Phalaris, who, speaking of the silver mines of Attica, said that the men there dug with as much energy as if they thought they could grub up Plutus himself. He compares with these the activity and diligence of the Turdetani, who are in the habit of cutting tortuous and deep tunnels, and draining the streams which they frequently encounter by means of Egyptian screws. [Note] As for the rest, [Note] they are quite different from the Attic miners, whose mining (he remarks) may be justly compared to that enigma, [Note] What I have taken up I have not kept, and what I have got I have thrown away. Whereas the Turdetanians make a good profit, since a fourth part of the ore which they extract from the copper mines is [pure] copper, while from the silver mines one person has taken as much as a Eubœan talent. He says that tin is not found upon the surface, as authors commonly relate, but that it is dug up; and that it is produced both in places among the barbarians who dwell beyond the Lusitanians and in the islands Cassiterides; and that from the Britannic Islands it is carried to Marseilles. Amongst the Artabri, [Note] who are the last of the Lusitanians towards the north and west, he tells us that the earth is powdered with silver, tin, and white gold, that is, mixed with silver, the earth having been brought down by the rivers: this the women scrape up with spades, and wash in sieves, woven after the fashion of baskets. Such is the

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substance of what [Posidonius] tells us concerning the mines [of Iberia]. 3.2.10

Polybius, speaking of the silver mines of New Carthage, [Note] tells us that they are extremely large, distant from the city about 20 stadia, and occupy a circuit of 400 stadia, that there are 40,000 men regularly engaged in them, and that they yield daily to the Roman people [a revenue of] 25,000 drachmæ. The rest of the process I pass over, as it is too long, but as for the silver ore collected, he tells us that it is broken up, and sifted through sieves over water; that what remains is to be again broken, and the water having been strained off, it is to be sifted and broken a third time. The dregs which remain after the fifth time are to be melted, and the lead being poured off, the silver is obtained pure. These silver mines still exist; however they are no longer the property of the state, neither these nor those elsewhere, but are possessed by private individuals. The gold mines, on the contrary, nearly all belong to the state. Both at Castlon [Note] and other places there are singular lead mines worked. They contain a small proportion of silver, but not sufficient to pay for the expense of refining. 3.2.11

Not far from Castlon is the mountain in which they report that the [river] Guadalquiver [Note] takes its rise. They call it silver mountain on account of the silver mines which it contains. [Note] Polybius asserts that both the Guadiana [Note] and this river have their sources in Keltiberia, notwithstanding they are separated from each other by a distance of 900 stadia; [Note] [this we are to attribute to] the Keltiberians having increased in power, and having consequently conferred their name on the surrounding country. It appears the ancients knew the Guadalquiver under the name of the Tartessus, and Gades [Note] with the neighbouring islands under that of Erythia; and it is thought that we should understand in this sense the words of Stesichorus [Note] concerning the pastoral poet Geryon, that he was born al-

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most opposite to the renowned Erythia, in a rocky cave near to the abundant springs of the silver-bedded river Tartessus. They say that on the piece of land enclosed between the two outlets of this river there formerly stood a city named, like the river, Tartessus, and that the district was called Tartessis, which the Turduli now inhabit. Eratosthenes likewise tells us that the [country] near to Calpe [Note] was called Tartessis, and also Erythia the Fortunate Island. This Artemidorus contradicts, and says that it is as false as his other statements, that the Sacred Promontory [Note] is distant from Gades [Note] five days' sail, when in fact they are [distant from each other] not more than 1700 stadia. [Note] Likewise that the tide ceased at this point, whereas it passes round the whole circuit of the habitable earth. That it is easier to pass from the northern parts of Iberia into Keltica, [Note] than to proceed thither by sea; with many other things which he asserted on the faith of that charlatan Pytheas.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 3.2.7 Str. 3.2.10 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 3.2.13

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