Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 3.3 Str. 3.4 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 3.5


WHAT remains [to be described] of Iberia, is the seacoast of the Mediterranean from the Pillars to the Pyrenees, and the whole of the inland country which lies above. The breadth of this is irregular, its length a little above 4000 stadia. It has been remarked that the sea-coast [Note] is above 2000 stadia, and they say that from Mount Calpe, [Note] which is near the Pillars, to New Carthage, [Note] there are 2200 stadia. This coast is inhabited by the Bastetani, also called the Bastuli, and in part by the Oretani. Thence [Note] to the Ebro the distance is nearly as great. This [region] is inhabited by the Edetani. On this side the Ebro to the Pyrenees and the Trophies of Pompey there are 1600 stadia. It is peopled by

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a small portion of the Edetani, and the rest by a people named the Indicetes, divided into four cantons. 3.4.2

Commencing our particular description from Calpe, there is [first] the mountain-chain of Bastetania and the Oretani. This is covered with thick woods and gigantic trees, and separates the sea-coast from the interior. In many places it also contains gold and other mines. The first city along the coast is Malaca, [Note] which is about as far distant from Calpe as Calpe is from Gades. [Note] It is a market for the nomade tribes from the opposite coast, and there are great stores of salt-fish there. Some suppose it to be the same as Mænaca, which tradition reports to be the farthest west of the cities of the Phocæi; but this is not the case, for Mænaca, which was situated at a greater distance from Calpe, is in ruins, and preserves traces of having been a Grecian city, whereas Malaca is nearer, and Phoenician in its configuration. Next in order is the city of the Exitani, [Note] from which the salted fish [Note]

bearing that name takes its appellation. 3.4.3

After these comes Abdera, [Note] founded likewise by the Phœnicians. Above these places, in the mountains, the city of Ulyssea [Note] is shown, containing a temple to Minerva, according to the testimony of Posidonius, Artemidorus, and Asclepiades the Myrlean, [Note] a man who taught literature in Turdetania, and published a description of the nations dwelling there. He says that in the temple of Minerva were hung up spears and prows of vessels, monuments of the wanderings

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of Ulysses. That some of those who followed Teucer in his expedition settled among the Gallicians; [Note] and that two cities were there, the one called Hellenes, [Note] the other Amphilochi; but Amphilochus [Note] having died, his followers wandered into the interior. He adds, that it is said, that some of the followers of Hercules, and certain also of the inhabitants of Messene, settled in Iberia. Both he and others assert that a portion of Cantabria was occupied by Laconians. Here is the city named Opsicella, [Note] founded by Ocela, [Note] who passed into Italy with Antenor and his children. Some believe the account of the merchants of Gades, asserted by Artemidorus, that in Libya there are people living above Maurusia, near to the Western Ethiopians, named Lotophagi, because they feed on the leaves and root of the lotus [Note] without wanting to

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drink; for they possess [no drink], being without water. These people they say extend as far as the regions above Cyrene. There are others also called Lotophagi, who inhabit Meninx, [Note] one of the islands situated opposite the Lesser Syrtes. [Note] 3.4.4

No one should be surprised that the poet, in his fiction descriptive of the wanderings of Ulysses, should have located the majority of the scenes which he narrates without the Pillars, in the Atlantic. For historical events of a similar char- acter did actually occur near to the places, so that the other circumstances which he feigned did not make his fiction incredible; nor [should any one be surprised] if certain persons, putting faith in the historical accuracy and extensive knowledge of the poet, should have attempted to explain the poem of Homer on scientific principles; a proceeding undertaken by Crates of Mallos, [Note] and some others. On the other hand, there have been those who have treated the undertaking of Homer so contemptuously, as not only to deny any such knowledge to the poet, as though he were a ditcher or reaper, but have stigmatized as fools those who commented on his writings. And not one either of the grammarians, or of those skilled in the mathematics, has dared to undertake their defence, or to set right any mistakes in what they have advanced, or any thing else; although it seems to me possible both to prove correct much that they have said, and also to set right other points, especially where they have been misled by putting faith in Pytheas, who was ignorant of the countries situated along the ocean, both to the west and north. But we must let these matters pass, as they require a particular and lengthened discussion. 3.4.5

The settlement of the Grecians amongst these barbarous nations may be regarded as the result of the division of these latter into small tribes and sovereignties, having on account of their moroseness no union amongst themselves, and therefore powerless against attacks from without. This moroseness is remarkably prevalent amongst the Iberians, who are

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besides crafty in their manner, devoid of sincerity, insidious, and predatory in their mode of life; they are bold in little adventures, but never undertake any thing of magnitude, inasmuch as they have never formed any extended power or confederacy. If they had had but the will to assist each other, neither could the Carthaginians by making an incursion have so easily deprived them of the greater part of their country, nor before them the Tyrians, then the Kelts, now called the Keltiberians and Berones, nor after these the brigand Viriathus, and Sertorius, [Note] nor any others who desired power. On this account the Romans, having carried the war into Iberia, lost much time by reason of the number of different sovereignties, having to conquer first one, then another; in fact, it occupied nearly two centuries, or even longer, before they had subdued the whole.—I return to my description. 3.4.6

After Abdera [Note] is New Carthage, [Note] founded by Asdrubal, who succeeded Bareas, the father of Hannibal. It is by far the most powerful city of this country, being impregnable, and furnished with a noble wall, harbours, and a lake, besides the silver mines already mentioned. The places in the vicinity have an abundance of salted fish, and it is besides the great emporium of the sea merchandise for the interior, and likewise for the merchandise from the interior for exportation. About midway along the coast between this city and the Ebro, we meet with the outlet of the river Xucar, [Note] and a city bearing the same name. [Note] It rises in a mountain belonging to the chain which overlooks Malaca, [Note] and the regions around Carthage, and may be forded on foot; it is nearly parallel to the Ebro, but not quite so far distant from Carthage as from the Ebro. Between the Xucar and Carthage are three small towns of the people of Marseilles, not far from the river. Of these the best known is Hemeroscopium. [Note] On the promontory there is a temple to Diana of Ephesus, held in great veneration. Sertorius used it as an arsenal, convenient to the sea, both on account of its being fortified and fitted for piratical uses, and because it is visible from a great distance

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to vessels approaching. It is called Dianium, [Note] from Diana. Near to it are some fine iron-works, and two small islands, Planesia [Note] and Plumbaria, [Note] with a sea-water lake lying above, of 400 stadia in circumference. Next is the island of Hercules, near to Carthage, and called Scombraria, [Note] on account of the mackerel taken there, from which the finest garum [Note] is made. It is distant 24 stadia from Carthage. On the other side of the Xucar, going towards the outlet of the Ebro, is Saguntum, founded by the Zacynthians. The de- struction of this city by Hannibal, contrary to his treaties with the Romans, kindled the second Punic war. Near to it are the cities of Cherronesus, [Note] Oleastrum, and Cartalia, and the colony of Dertossa, [Note] on the very passage of the Ebro. The Ebro takes its source amongst the Cantabrians; it flows through an extended plain towards the south, running parallel with the Pyrenees. 3.4.7

The first city between the windings of the Ebro and the extremities of the Pyrenees, near to where the Trophies of Pompey are erected, is Tarraco; [Note] it has no harbour, but is situated on a bay, and possessed of many other advantages. At the present day it is as well peopled as Carthage; [Note] for it is admirably suited for the stay of the prefects, [Note] and is as it were the metropolis, not only of [the country lying] on this side the Ebro, but also of a great part of what lies beyond. The near vicinity of the Gymnesian Islands, [Note] and Ebusus, [Note] which are all of considerable importance, are sufficient to inform one of the felicitous position of the city. Eratosthenes tells us that it has a road-stead, but Artemidorus contradicts this, and affirms that it scarcely possesses an anchorage. 3.4.8

The whole coast from the Pillars up to this place wants harbours, but all the way from here to Emporium, [Note] the countries of the Leëtani, the Lartolæetæ, and others, are both furnished with excellent harbours and fertile. Emporium was founded by the people of Marseilles, and is about 4000 [Note] stadia

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distant from the Pyrenees, and the confines of Iberia and Keltica. This is a very fine region, and possesses good ports. Here also is Rhodope, [Note] a small town of the Emporitæ, but some say it was founded by the Rhodians. Both here and in Emporium they reverence the Ephesian Diana. The cause of this we will explain when we come to speak of Massalia. [Note] in former times the Emporitæ dwelt on a small island opposite, now called the old city, but at the present day they inhabit the mainland. The city is double, being divided by a wall, for in past times some of the Indiceti dwelt close by, who, although they had a separate polity to themselves, desired, for the sake of safety, to be shut in by a common enclosure with the Grecians; but at the same time that this enclosure should be two-fold, being divided through its middle by a wall. In time, however, they came to have but one government, a mixture of Barbarian and Grecian laws; a result which has taken place in many other [states]. 3.4.9

A river [Note] flows near to it, which has its sources in the Pyrenees; its outlet forms a port for the Emporitæ, who are skilful workers in flax. Of the interior of their country some parts are fertile, others covered with spartum, a rush which flourishes in marshes, and is entirely useless: they call this the June Plain. There are some who inhabit the Pyrenean mountains as far as the Trophies of Pompey, on the route which leads from Italy into Ulterior Iberia, [Note] and particularly into Bætica. This road runs sometimes close to the sea, sometimes at a distance therefrom, particularly in the western parts. From the Trophies of Pompey it leads to Tarraco, [Note] through the June Plain, the Betteres, [Note] and the plain called in the Latin tongue [the plain] of Marathon, on account

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of the quantity of fennel growing there. From Tarraco [the road runs] towards the passage of the Ebro at the city of Dertossa; [Note] from thence having traversed the city of Saguntum, [Note] and Setabis, [Note] it follows a course more and more distant from the sea, till it approaches the Plain of Spartarium, which signifies the Plain of Rushes. This is a vast arid plain, producing the species of rush from which cords are made, and which are exported to all parts, but particularly to Italy. [Note] Formerly the road passed on through the midst of the plain, and [the city of] Egelastæ, [Note] which was both difficult and long, but they have now constructed a new road close to the sea, which merely touches upon the Plain of Rushes, and leads to the same places as the former, [viz.] Castlon, [Note] and Obulco, [Note] through which runs the road to Corduba and Gades, [Note] the two greatest emporia [of Iberia]. Obulco is distant about 300 stadia from Corduba. Historians report that Cæsar came from Rome to Obulco, and to his army there, within the space of twenty-seven days, when about to fight the battle of Munda. [Note] 3.4.10

Such is the whole sea-coast from the Pillars to the confines of the Iberians and Kelts. The interior of the country lying above, and included between the mountains of the Pyrenees and the northern side [of Iberia], as far as the Astures, is principally divided by two mountain chains; the one of these is parallel to the Pyrenees, and takes its commencement from the country of the Cantabri, terminating at the Mediterranean. This is called the Idubeda. [Note] The second, springing from the middle [of this first], runs towards the west, inclining however to the south and the sea-coast towards the Pillars. At the commencement it consists of bare hills, but after traversing the Plain of Spartarium, falls in with the forest lying above Carthage, [Note] and the regions round Malaca. [Note] It is named Orospeda. [Note] The river Ebro flows between the Pyrenees and Idubeda, and parallel to both these mountains. It is fed by the rivers and other waters carried down

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from [the mountains]. Situated on the Ebro is the city of Cæsar Augusta, [Note] and the colony of Celsa, [Note] where there is a stone bridge across the river. This country is inhabited by many nations, the best known being that of the Jaccetani. [Note] Commencing at the foot of the Pyrenees, it widens out into the plains, and reaches to the districts around Ilerda [Note] and Osca, [Note] [cities] of the Ilergetes not far distant from the Ebro. It was in these cities, and in Calaguris, [Note] a city of the Gascons, as well as those of Tarraco [Note] and Hemeroscopium, [Note] situated on the coast, that Sertorius sustained the last efforts of the war, after being ejected from the country of the Keltiberians. He died at Osca, and it was near to Ilerda that Afranius and Petreius, Pompey's generals, were afterwards defeated by divus [Note] Cæsar. Ilerda is distant 160 stadia from the Ebro, which is on its west, about 460 from Tarraco, which is on the south, and 540 from Osca, which lies to the north. [Note] Passing through these places from Tarraco to the extremities of the Vascons who dwell by the ocean, near Pompelon [Note] and the city of Œaso [Note] situated on the ocean, the route extends 2400 stadia, to the very frontiers of Aquitaine and Iberia. It was in the country of the Jaccetani that Sertorius fought against Pompey, and here afterwards Sextus, Pompey's son, fought against the generals of Cæsar. The nation of the Vascons, in which is Pompelon, or Pompey's city, lies north of Jaccetania. 3.4.11

The side of the Pyrenees next Iberia is covered with forests containing numerous kinds of trees and evergreens, whilst the side next Keltica is bare: in the midst [the mountains] enclose valleys admirably fitted for the habitation of

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man. These are mainly possessed by the Kerretani, a people of the Iberians. The hams they cure are excellent, fully equal to those of the Cantabrians, [Note] and they realize no inconsiderable profit to the inhabitants. 3.4.12

Immediately after passing Idubeda, you enter on Keltiberia, a large and irregular country. It is for the most part rugged, and watered by rivers, being traversed by the Guadiana, [Note] the Tagus, and many other of the rivers which flow into the western sea, but have their sources in Keltiberia. Of their number is the Douro, which flows by Numantia [Note] and Serguntia. The Guadalquiver [Note] rises in Orospeda, and after passing through Oretania, enters Bætica. The Berones inhabit the districts north of the Keltiberians, and are neighbours of the Conish Cantabrians. They likewise had their origin in the Keltic expedition. Their city is Varia, [Note] situated near to the passage of the Ebro. They are adjacent to the Bardyitæ, now called the Bardyli. [Note] To the west [of the Keltiberians] are certain of the Astures, Gallicians, and Vaccæi, besides Vettones and Carpetani. On the south are the Oretani, and the other inhabitants of Orospeda, both Bastetani and Edetani, [Note] and to the east is Idubeda. 3.4.13

Of the four divisions into which the Keltiberians are separated, the most powerful are the Aruaci, situated to the east and south, near to the Carpetani and the sources of the Tagus. Their most renowned city is Numantia. They showed their valour in the war of twenty years, waged by the Keltiberians against the Romans; for many armies of the Romans, together with their generals, were destroyed; and in the end the Numantians, besieged within their city, endured the famine with constancy, till, reduced to a very small number, they were compelled to surrender the place. The Lusones are also situated to the east, and likewise border on the sources of the Tagus. Segeda and Pallantia [Note] are cities of the Aru-

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aci. Numantia is distant from Cæsar Augusta, [Note] situated as we have said upon the Ebro, about 800 stadia. Near to Segobriga and Bilbilis, [Note] likewise cities of the Keltiberians, was fought the battle between Metellus and Sertorius. Polybius, describing the people and countries of the Vaccæi and Keltiberians, enumerates Segesama [Note] and Intercatia amongst their other cities. Posidonius tells us that Marcus Marcellus exacted of Keltiberia a tribute of 600 talents, which proves that the Keltiberians were a numerous and wealthy people, notwithstanding the little fertility of their country. Polybius narrates that Tiberius Gracchus destroyed 300 cities of the Keltiberians. This Posidonius ridicules, and asserts that to flatter Gracchus, Polybius described as cities the towers such as are exhibited in the triumphal processions. [Note] This is not incredible; for both generals and historians easily fall into this species of deception, by exaggerating their doings. Those who assert that Iberia contained more than a thousand cities, seem to me to have been carried away in a similar manner, and to have denominated as cities what were merely large villages; since, from its very nature, this country is incapable of maintaining so many cities, on account of its sterility, wildness, and its out-of-the-way position. Nor, with the exception of those who dwell along the shores of the Mediterranean, is any such statement confirmed by the mode of life or actions of the inhabitants. The inhabitants of the villages, who constitute the majority of the Iberians, are quite uncivilized. Even the cities cannot very easily refine the manners [of their inhabitants], as the neighbouring woods are full of robbers, waiting only an opportunity to inflict injury on the citizens. 3.4.14

Beyond the Keltiberians to the south are the inhabit-

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ants of Orospeda and the country about the Xucar, [Note] the Side- tani, [Note] [who extend] as far as Carthage, [Note] and the Bastetani and Oretani, [who extend] almost as far as Malaca. [Note] 3.4.15

All the Iberians, so to speak, were peltastæ, furnished with light arms for the purposes of robbery, and, as we described the Lusitanians, using the javelin, the sling, and the sword. They have some cavalry interspersed amongst the foot-soldiers, the horses are trained to traverse the mountains, and to sink down on their knees at the word of command, in case of necessity. Iberia produces abundance of antelopes and wild horses. In many places the lakes are stocked. They have fowl, swans, and birds of similar kind, and vast numbers of bustards. Beavers are found in the rivers, but the castor does not possess the same virtue as that from the Euxine, [Note] the drug from that place having peculiar properties of its own, as is the case in many other instances. Thus Posidonius tells us that the Cyprian copper alone produces the cadmian stone, copperas-water, and oxide of copper. He likewise informs us of the singular fact, that in Iberia the crows are not black; and that the horses of Keltiberia which are spotted, lose that colour when they pass into Ulterior Iberia. He compares them to the Parthian horses, for indeed they are superior to all other breeds, both in fleetness and their ease in speedy travelling. 3.4.16

Iberia produces a large quantity of roots used in dyeing. In olives, vines, figs, and every kind of similar fruit- trees, the Iberian coast next the Mediterranean abounds, they are likewise plentiful beyond. Of the coasts next the ocean, that towards the north is destitute of them, on account of the cold, and the remaining portion generally on account of the apathy of the men, and because they do not lead a civilized life, but pass their days in poverty, only acting on the animal

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impulse, and living most corruptly. They do not attend to ease or luxury, unless any one considers it can add to the happiness of their lives to wash themselves and their wives in stale urine kept in tanks, and to rinse their teeth with it, which they say is the custom both with the Cantabrians and their neighbours. [Note] This practice, as well as that of sleeping on the ground, is common both among the Iberians and Kelts. Some say that the Gallicians are atheists, but that the Keltiberians, and their neighbours to the north, [sacrifice] to a nameless god, every full moon, at night, before their doors, the whole family passing the night in dancing and festival. The Vet- tones, the first time they came to a Roman camp, and saw certain of the officers walking up and down the roads for the mere pleasure of walking, supposed that they were mad, and offered to show them the way to their tents. For they thought, when not fighting, one should remain quietly seated at ease. [Note] 3.4.17

What Artemidorus relates concerning the adornment of certain of their women, must likewise be attributed to their barbarous customs. He says that they wear iron collars having crows fixed to them which bend over the head, and fall forward considerably over the forehead. When they wish they draw their veil over these crows, so as to shade the whole face: this they consider an ornament. Others wear a tympanium [Note] surrounding the occiput, and fitting tight to the head as far as the ears, turning over [and increasing] little by little in height and breadth. Others again make bald the front of the head, in order to display the forehead to greater advantage. Some twist their flowing hair round a small style, a foot high, and afterwards cover it with a black veil. Of singularities like these many have been observed and recorded as to all the Iberian nations in common, but

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particularly those towards the north not only concerning their bravery, but likewise their cruelty and brutal madness. For in the war against the Cantabrians, mothers have slain their children sooner than suffer them to be captured; and a young boy, having obtained a sword, slew, at the command of his father, both his parents and brothers, who had been made prisoners and were bound, and a woman those who had been taken together with her. A man being invited by a party of drunken [soldiers] to their feast, threw himself into a fire. These feelings are common both to the Keltic, Thracian, and Scythian nations, as well as the valour not only of their men, but likewise of their women. These till the ground, [Note] and after parturition, having put their husbands instead of themselves to bed, they wait upon them. Frequently in their employment they wash and swathe their infants, sitting down by some stream. Posidonius tells us that in Liguria, his host Charmoleon, a man who came from Marseilles, related to him, that having hired some men and women to dig his land, one of the women was seized with the pains of labour, and going to a little distance from where they were at work, she brought forth, and returned immediately to her work, for fear she might lose her pay. He observed that she was evidently working in considerable pain, but was not aware of the cause till towards evening, when he ascertained it, and sent her away, having given her her wages. She then carried her infant to a small spring, and having washed it, wrapped it up in as good swaddling clothes as she could get, and made the best of her way home. 3.4.18

Another practice, not restricted to the Iberians alone, is for two to mount on one horse, so that in the event of a conflict, one may be there to fight on foot. Neither are they the only sufferers in being tormented with vast swarms of mice, from which pestilential diseases have frequently ensued. This occurred to the Romans in Cantabria, so that they caused it to be proclaimed, that whoever would catch the mice should receive rewards according to the number taken, and [even with this] they were scarcely preserved, as they were suffering besides from want of corn and other necessaries, it being difficult to get supplies of corn from Aquitaine on account of

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the rugged nature of the country. It is a proof of the ferocity of the Cantabrians, that a number of them having been taken prisoners and fixed to the cross, they chanted songs of triumph. Instances such as these are proofs of the ferocity of their manners. There are others which, although not showing them to be polished, are certainly not brutish. For example, amongst the Cantabrians, the men give dowries to their wives, and the daughters are left heirs, but they procure wives for their brothers. These things indicate a degree of power in the woman, although they are no proof of advanced civilization. [Note] It is also a custom with the Iberians to furnish themselves with a poison, which kills without pain, and which they procure from a herb resembling parsley. This they hold in readiness in case of misfortune, and to devote themselves for those whose cause they have joined, thus dying for their sake. [Note]

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Some, as I have said, state that this country is separated into four divisions; others, into five. It is not easy to state any thing precisely on these points, both on account of the changes which the places have undergone, and by reason of their obscurity. In well-known and notable countries both the migrations are known, and the divisions of the land, and the changes of their names, and every thing else of the same kind. Such matters being the common topics with everybody, and especially with the Greeks, who are more talkative than any other people. But in barbarous and out-of-the-way countries, and such as are cut up into small divisions, and lie scattered, the remembrance of such occurrences is not nearly so certain, nor yet so full. If these countries are far removed from the Greeks [our] ignorance is increased. For although the Roman historians imitate the Greeks, they fall far short of them. What they relate is taken from the Greeks, very little being the result of their own ardour in acquiring information. So that whenever any thing has been omitted by the former there is not much supplied by the latter. Add to this, that the names most celebrated are generally Grecian. Formerly the name of Iberia was given to the whole country between the Rhone and the isthmus formed by the two Galatic gulfs; whereas now they make the Pyrenees its boundary, and call it indifferently Iberia or Hispania; others have restricted Iberia to the country on this side the Ebro. [Note] Still earlier it bore the name of the Igletes, [Note] who inhabited but a small district, according to Asclepiades the Myrlean. The Romans call the whole indifferently Iberia and Hispania,

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but designate one portion of it Ulterior, and the other Citerior. However, at different periods they have divided it differently, according to its political aspect at various times. 3.4.20

At the present time some of the provinces having been assigned to the people and senate of the Romans, and the others to the emperor, Bætica appertains to the people, and a prætor has been sent into the country, having under him a quæstor and a lieutenant. Its eastern boundary has been fixed near to Castlon. [Note] The remainder belongs to the emperor, who deputes two lieutenants, a prætor, and a consul. The prætor with a lieutenant administers justice amongst the Lusitanians, who are situated next Bætica, and extend as far as the outlets of the river Douro, for at the present time this district is called Lusitania by the inhabitants. Here is [the city of] Augusta Emerita. [Note] What remains, which is [indeed] the greater part of Iberia, is governed by the consul, who has under him a respectable force, consisting of about three legions, with three lieutenants, one of whom with two legions guards the whole country north of the Douro, the inhabitants of which formerly were styled Lusitanians, but are now called Gallicians. The northern mountains, together with the Asturian and Cantabrian, border on these. The river Melsus [Note] flows through the country of the Asturians, and at a little distance is the city of Nougat, [Note] close to an estuary formed by the ocean, which separates the Asturians from the Cantabrians. The second lieutenant with the remaining legion governs the adjoining district as far as the Pyrenees. The third oversees the midland district, and governs the cities inhabited by the togati, whom we have before alluded to as inclined to peace, and who have adopted the refined manners and mode of life of the Italians, together with the toga. These are the Keltiberians, and those who dwell on either side of the Ebro, as far as the sea-coast. The consul passes the winter in the maritime districts, mostly administering justice

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either in [the city of] Carthage, [Note] or Tarraco. [Note] During the summer he travels through the country, observing whatever may need reform. There are also the procurators of the emperor, men of the equestrian rank, who distribute the pay to the soldiers for their maintenance.

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