Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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STARTING again from the Sacred Promontory, [Note] and continuing along the other side of the coast, we come to the gulf near the Tagus, afterwards Cape Barbarium, [Note] and near to this the outlets of the Tagus, which may be reached by sailing in a straight course for a distance of 10 stadia. [Note] Here are estuaries, one of them more than 400 stadia from the said tower, on a part of which Laccæa is situated. [Note] The breadth of the mouth of the Tagus is about 20 stadia, its depth is so great as to be capable of navigation by vessels of the greatest burden. At the flood-tide the Tagus forms two estuaries in the

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plains which lie above it, so that the plain is inundated and rendered navigable for a distance of 150 stadia. In the upper estuary an island is formed about 30 stadia in length, and nearly equal in breadth, which is fertile, and has excellent vines. The island lies near to Moro, [Note] a city happily situated on a mountain close to the river, and about 500 stadia from the sea. The country surrounding it is very fine, and the ascent [of the Tagus] for a considerable way practicable for vessels of a large size, the remainder is performed in riverboats. Above Moro it is navigable for a yet longer distance. Brutus, surnamed the Gallician, made use of this city as a military station, when fighting against the Lusitanians, whom he subdued. On the sides of the river he fortified Olysipo, in order that the passage up the river and the carriage of necessaries might be preserved unimpeded. These therefore are the finest cities near the Tagus. The river contains much fish, and is full of oysters. It takes its rise amongst the Keltiberians, and flows through the [country of the] Vettones, Carpetani, and Lusitani, towards the west; [Note] to a certain distance it runs parallel with the Guadiana [Note] and Guadalquiver, [Note] but parts from them as they decline towards the southern coast. 3.3.2

Of those who dwell above the aforesaid mountains, the Oretani are the most southern, extending in part as far as the sea-coast on this side the Pillars. Next these towards the north are the Carpetani, then the Vettones and Vaccæi, through whose [country] the Douro [Note] flows as it passes Acontia, [Note] a city of the Vaccæi. The Gallicians are the last, and inhabit for the most part a mountainous country: on this account they were the most difficult to subdue, and furnished his surname to the conqueror of the Lusitanians; in fact, at the present day the greater part of the Lusitanians are beginning to call themselves Gallicians. The finest cities of Oretania are Castulo [Note] and Oria. [Note] 3.3.3

North of the Tagus is Lusitania, the principal of the nations of Iberia, and the one which has most frequently encountered the arms of the Romans. On the southern side

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this country is bounded by the Tagus, on the west and north by the ocean, on the east by the well-known nations of the Carpetani, the Vettones, the Vaccæi, the Gallicians, and by others not worthy to be mentioned on account of their insignificance and obscurity. On the other hand, certain historians of the present day give the name of Lusitanians to all of these nations.

To the east the Gallicians border on the nation of the Asturians and Keltiberians, the others [border] on the Keltiberians. In length Lusitania is 3000 [Note] stadia; its breadth, which is comprised between the eastern side and the opposite seacoast, is much less. The eastern part is mountainous and rugged, while the country beyond, as far as the sea, consists entirely of plains, with the exception of a few inconsiderable mountains. On this account Posidonius remarks that Aristotle was not correct in supposing that the ebb and flow of the tide was occasioned by the sea-coast of Iberia and Maurusia. [Note] For Aristotle asserted that the tides of the sea were caused by the extremities of the land being mountainous and rugged, and therefore both receiving the wave violently and also casting it back. Whereas Posidonius truly remarks that they are for the most part low and sandy. 3.3.4

The country which we are describing is fertile, and irrigated by rivers both large and small, all of which flow from the eastern parts parallel with the Tagus: most of them are navigable and full of gold dust. After the Tagus, the most noted rivers are the Mondego [Note] and the Vouga, [Note] which are navigable but for a short distance. After these is the Douro, [Note] which flows from afar by Numantia, [Note] and many other colonies of the Keltiberians and Vaccæi; it is capable of being navigated in large vessels for a distance of nearly 800 stadia. Besides these there are other rivers, after which is the [river] of Lethe, which some call the Limæa, [Note] others the Belio, [Note] it likewise rises amongst the Keltiberians and Vaccæi. After

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this is the Bænis, (some call it the Minius, [Note]) by far the largest river of Lusitania, [Note] being navigable for a distance of 800 stadia. Posidonius says this too rises amongst the Cantabrians. [Note] An island [Note] lies before its outlet, and two moles affording anchorage for vessels. A natural advantage [of this country] well deserving of commendation is, that the banks of the rivers are so lofty as to be capable of containing the entire of the water raised by the high tides of the sea, without either being overfilled, or overflowing the plains. This was the limit of Brutus's expedition. Beyond there are many other rivers parallel to those I have named. 3.3.5

The Artabri are the last of the people [on this coast]. They inhabit the promontory called Nerium, [Note] which is the boundary [of Iberia] on its western and northern sides. Around it dwell the Keltici, a kindred race to those who are situated along the Guadiana. [Note] They say that these latter, together with the Turduli, having undertaken an expedition thither, quarrelled after they had crossed the river Lima, [Note] and, besides the sedition, their leader having also died, they remained scattered there, and from this circumstance the river was called the Lethe. [Note] The Artabri have besides many cities established round the Gulf, which mariners and those familiar with the places designate as the Port of the Artabri. At the present day the Artabri are denominated the Arotrebæ. About thirty [Note] different nations occupy the country between the Tagus and the Artabri. Notwithstanding the fertility of the country in corn, cattle, gold, silver, and

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numerous other similar productions, the majority of its inhabit- ants, neglecting to gain their subsistence from the ground, passed their lives in pillage and continual warfare, both between themselves and their neighbours, whom they used to cross the Tagus [to plunder]. To this the Romans at length put a stop by subduing them, and changing many of their cities into villages, besides colonizing some of them better. The mountaineers, as was natural, were the first to commence this lawless mode of life: for living but scantily, and possessing little, they coveted the goods of others, who being obliged to repulse them, of necessity relinquished their proper employments, and instead of pursuing agriculture took up arms. Thus it happened that their country, being neglected, became barren notwithstanding its natural advantages, and inhabited by bandits. 3.3.6

The Lusitanians are reported to be clever in laying ambushes, sharp, swift of foot, light, [Note] and easily disciplined as soldiers. The small shield they make use of is two feet in diameter, its outer surface concave, and suspended by leather thongs; it neither has rings nor handles. They have in addition [Note] a poignard or dagger. Their corselets are for the most part made of linen; a few have chain-coats and helmets with triple crests, but the others use helmets composed of sinews. The infantry wear greaves, each man is furnished with a number of javelins; some also use spears pointed with brass. They report that some of those who dwell near to the river Douro [Note] imitate the Lacedæmonians in anointing their bodies with oil, using hot air-baths made of heated stones, bathing in cold water, and taking but one tidy and frugal meal a day. The Lusitanians are frequent in the performance of sacrifice; they examine the entrails, but without cutting them out of the body; they also examine the veins of the side, and practise augury by the touch. They likewise divine by the entrails of captive enemies, whom they first cover with a military cloak, and when stricken under the entrails by the haruspex, they draw their first auguries from the fall [of the

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victim]. They cut off the right hands of their prisoners, and consecrate them to the gods. 3.3.7

All the mountaineers are frugal, their beverage is water, they sleep on the ground, and wear a profuse quantity of long hair after the fashion of women, which they bind around the forehead when they go to battle. [Note] They subsist principally on the flesh of the goat, which animal they sacrifice to Mars, as also prisoners taken in war, and horses. They likewise offer hecatombs of each kind after the manner of the Greeks, described by Pindar, To sacrifice a hundred of every [species]. [Note]
They practise gymnastic exercises, [Note] both as heavy-armed soldiers, and cavalry, also boxing, running, skirmishing, and fighting in bands. For two-thirds of the year the mountaineers feed on the acorn, which they dry, bruise, and afterwards grind and make into a kind of bread, which may be stored up for a long period. They also use beer; wine is very scarce, and what is made they speedily consume in feasting with their relatives. In place of oil they use butter. Their meals they take sitting, on seats put up round the walls, and they take place on these according to their age and rank. The supper is carried round, and whilst drinking they dance to the sound of the flute and trumpet, springing up and sinking upon the knees. [Note]

In Bastetania the women dance promiscuously with the men, each holding the other's hand. They all dress in black, the majority of them in cloaks called saga, in which they sleep on beds of straw. They make use of wooden vessels like the Kelts. The women wear dresses and embroidered garments. Instead of money, those who dwell far in the interior exchange merchandise, or give pieces of silver cut off

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from plates of that metal. Those condemned to death are executed by stoning; parricides are put to death without the frontiers or the cities. They marry according to the customs of the Greeks. [Note] Their sick they expose upon the highways, in the same way as the Egyptians [Note] did anciently, in the hope that some one who has experienced the malady may be able to give them advice. Up to the time of [the expedition of] Brutus they made use of vessels constructed of skins for crossing the lagoons formed by the tides; they now have them formed out of the single trunk of a tree, but these are scarce. Their salt is purple, but becomes white by pounding. The life of the mountaineers is such as I have described, I mean those bordering the northern side of Iberia, the Gallicians, the Asturians, and the Cantabrians, [Note] as far as the Vascons [Note] and the Pyrenees. The mode of life amongst all these is similar. But I am reluctant to fill my page with their names, and would fain escape the disagreeable task of writing them, unless perchance the Pleutauri, the Bardyetæ, the Allotriges, [Note] and other names still worse and more out of the way than these might be grateful to the ear of some one. 3.3.8

The rough and savage manners of these people is not alone owing to their wars, but likewise to their isolated position, it being a long distance to reach them, whether by sea or land. Thus the difficulty of communication has deprived

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them both of generosity of manners and of courtesy. At the present time, however, they suffer less from this both on account of their being at peace and the intermixture of Romans. Wherever these [influences] are not so much experienced people are harsher and more savage. It is probable that this ruggedness of character is increased by the barrenness of the mountains and some of the places which they inhabit. At the present day, as I have remarked, all warfare is put an end to, Augustus Cæsar having subdued the Cantabrians [Note] and the neighbouring nations, amongst whom the system of pillage was mainly carried on in our day. So that at the present time, instead of plundering the allies of the Romans, the Coniaci and those who dwell by the sources of the Ebro, [Note] with the exception of the Tuisi, [Note] bear arms for the Romans. Tiberius, who succeeded Augustus Cæsar, carried out his intention of placing a military force of three legions in these parts, by which means he has not only preserved peace, but introduced amongst some of them a civil polity.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 3.2 Str. 3.3 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 3.4

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