Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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A great part of the country of the Salassi lies in a deep valley, formed by a chain of mountains which encloses the district on either side; a part of them however inhabit the [Note]

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overhanging ridges. The route of those who are desirous of passing from Italy over these mountains, lies through the aforesaid valley. Beyond this the road separates into two. The one which passes through the mountain peaks, known as the Pennine Alps, cannot be traversed by carriages; the other, which runs through the country of the Centrones, lies more to the west. [Note] The country of the Salassi contains gold mines, of which formerly, in the days of their power, they were masters, as well as of the passes. The river Doria Baltea [Note] afforded them great facility in obtaining the metal by [supplying them with water] for washing the gold, and they have emptied the main bed by the numerous trenches cut for drawing the water to different places. This operation, though advantageous in gold hunting, was injurious to the agriculturists below, as it deprived them of the irrigation of a river, which, by the height of its position, was capable of watering their plains. This gave rise to frequent wars between the two nations; when the Romans gained the dominion, the Salassi lost both their gold works and their country, but as they still possessed the mountains, they continued to sell water to the public contractors of the gold mines; with whom there were continual disputes on account of the avarice of the contractors, and thus the Roman generals sent into the country were ever able to find a pretext for commencing war. And, until very recently, the Salassi at one time waging war against the Romans, and at another making peace, took occasion to inflict numerous damages upon those who crossed over their mountains, by their system of plundering; and even exacted from Decimus Brutus, on his flight from Mutina, [Note] a drachm per man. Messala, likewise, having taken up his winter quarters in their vicinity, was obliged to pay them, both for his fire-wood, and for the elm-wood for making javelins for the exercise of his troops. In one instance they plundered the treasures of Cæsar, [Note] and rolled down huge

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masses of rock upon the soldiers under pretence of making roads, or building bridges over the rivers. Afterwards Augustus completely overthrew them, and carried them to Eporedia, [Note] a Roman colony which had been planted as a bulwark against the Salassi, although the inhabitants were able to do but little against them until the nation was destroyed; their numbers amounted to 36,000 persons, besides 8000 men capable of bearing arms. Terentius Varro, the general who defeated them, sold them all by public auction, as enemies taken in war. Three thousand Romans sent out by Augustus founded the city of Augusta, [Note] on the spot where Varro had encamped, and now the whole surrounding country, even to the summits of the mountains, is at peace. 4.6.8

Beyond, both the eastern parts of the mountains, and those likewise inclining to the south, are possessed by the Rhæti and Vindelici, who adjoin the Helvetii and Boii, and press upon their plains. The Rhæti extend as far as Italy above Verona and Como. The Rhætian wine, which is esteemed not inferior to the finest wines of Italy, is produced [from vines which grow] at the foot of the mountains. These people extend also as far as the districts through which the Rhine flows. The Lepontii and Camuni are of their nation. The Vindelici and Norici possess, for the most part, the opposite side of the mountains together with the Breuni and Genauni, who form part of the Illyrians. [Note] All these people were continually making incursions both into the neighbouring parts of Italy, and into [the countries] of the Helvetii,

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the Sequani, [Note] the Boii, and the Germans. [Note] But the Licattii, the Clautinatii, and the Vennones [Note] proved the boldest amongst the Vindelici; and the Rucantii and Cotuantii amongst the Rhæti. Both the Estiones and Brigantii belong to the Vindelici; their cities are Brigantium, Campodunum, and Damasia, which may be looked upon as the Acropolis of the Licattii. It is narrated, as an instance of the extreme brutality of these robbers towards the people of Italy, that when they have taken any village or city, they not only put to death all the men capable of bearing arms, but likewise all the male children, and do not even stop here, but murder every pregnant woman who, their diviners say, will bring forth a male infant. [Note]


After these come certain of the Norici, and the Carni, who inhabit the country about the Adriatic Gulf and Aquileia. The Taurisci belong to the Norici. Tiberius and his brother Drusus in one summer put a stop to their lawless incursions, so that now for three and thirty years [Note] they have lived quietly and paid their tribute regularly. Throughout the whole region of the Alps there are hilly districts capable of excellent cultivation, and well situated valleys; but the greater part, especially the summits of the mountains inhabited by the robbers, are barren and unfruitful, both on account of the frost and the ruggedness of the land. On account of the want of food and other necessaries the mountaineers have sometimes been obliged to spare the inhabitants of the plains, that they might have some people to supply them; for these they have given them in exchange, resin, pitch, torches,

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wax, cheese, and honey, of which they have plenty. In the Mount Apennine [Note] which lies above the Carni there is a lake which runs out into the Isar, which river, after receiving another river, the Aude, [Note] discharges itself into the Adriatic. From this lake there is also another river, the Atesinus, which flows into the Danube. [Note] The Danube itself rises in the mountains which are split into many branches and numerous summits. For from Liguria to here the summits of the Alps stretch along continuously, presenting the appearance of one mountain; but after this they rise and fall in turns, forming numerous ridges and peaks. The first of these is beyond the Rhine and the lake [Note] inclining towards the east, its ridge moderately elevated; here are the sources of the Danube near to the Suevi and the forest of Hercynia. [Note] The other branches extend towards Illyria and the Adriatic, such are the Mount Apennine, already mentioned, Tullum and Phligadia, [Note] the mountains lying above the Vindelici from whence proceed the Duras, [Note] the Clanis, [Note] and many other rivers which discharge themselves like torrents into the current of the Danube.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 4.6.4 Str. 4.6.8 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 4.6.11

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