Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 6.4.1 Str. 6.4.2 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 7.1.1

6.4.1

So great indeed is Italy, and much as we have described it; we will now advert to the chief of the many things that have been described, which have conduced to raise the Romans to so great a height of prosperity. One point is its insular position, by which it is securely guarded, the seas forming a natural protection around it with the exception of a very inconsiderable frontier, which too is fortified by almost impassable mountains. A second is, that there are but few harbours, and those few capacious and admirably situated. These are of great service both for enterprises against foreign places, and also in case of invasions undertaken against the country, and the reception of abundant merchandise. And a third, that it is situated so as to possess many advantages of atmosphere and temperature of climate, in which both animals and plants, and in fact all things available for sustaining life, may be accommodated with every variety both of mild and severe temperature; its length stretches in a direction north and south. Sicily, which is extensive, may be looked upon as an addition to its length, for we cannot consider it in any other light than as a part of it. The salubrity or severity of the atmosphere of different countries, is estimated by the amount of cold or heat, or the degrees of temperature between those extremes; in this way we shall find that Italy, which is situated in the medium of both the extremes, and having so great a length, largely participates in a salubrious atmosphere, and that in many respects. This advantage is still secured to it in another way, for the chain of the Apennines extending through its whole length, and leaving on each side plains and fruitful hills, there is no district which does not participate in the advantages of the best productions both of hill and plain. We must also enumerate the magnitude and number of its rivers and lakes, and the springs of hot and cold waters supplied by nature in various localities for the restoration of health; and in addition to these, its great wealth in mines of all the metals, abundance of timber, and excellent food both for man and for beasts of all kinds. Italy, likewise, being situated in the very midst of the greatest nations, I allude to Greece and the best provinces of Asia, is naturally in a posi-

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tion to gain the ascendency, since she excels the circumjacent countries both in the valour of her population and in extent of territory, and by being in proximity to them seems to have been ordained to bring them into subjection without difficulty. 6.4.2

If, in addition to our description of Italy, a few words should be summarily added about the Romans who have possessed themselves of it, and prepared it as a centre from whence to enforce their universal dominion, we would offer the following.—The Romans, after the foundation of their state, discreetly existed as a kingdom for many years, till Tarquin, the last [Roman king], abused his power, when they expelled him, and established a mixed form of government, being a modification both of the monarchical and aristocratical systems; they admitted both the Sabines [Note] and Latins [Note] into their alliance, but as neither they nor the other neighbouring states continued to act with good faith towards them at all times, they were under the necessity of aggrandizing themselves by the dismemberment of their neighbours. [Note] Having thus, by degrees, arrived at a state of considerable importance, it chanced that they lost their city suddenly, contrary to the expectation of all men, and again recovered the same contrary to all expectation. [Note] This took place, according to Polybius, in the nineteenth year after the naval engagement of ægos-potami, [Note] about the time of the con- clusion of the peace of Antalcidas. [Note] Having escaped these misfortunes, the Romans first reduced all the Latins [Note] to complete obedience, they then subdued the Tyrrheni, [Note] and stayed the Kelts, who border the Po, from their too frequent and licentious forays; then the Samnites, and after them they conquered the Tarentines and Pyrrhus, [Note] and presently after the remainder of what is now considered as Italy, with the exception of the districts on the Po. While these still remained a subject of dispute they passed over into Sicily, [Note] and having wrested that island from the Carthaginians [Note] they re-

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turned to complete the conquest of the people dwelling along the Po. While this war was still in hand Hannibal entered Italy, [Note] thus the second war against the Carthaginians ensued, and after a very short interval the third, in which Carthage was demolished. [Note] At the same time the Romans became masters of Africa, [Note] and of such portions of Spain as they won from the Carthaginians. Both the Greeks and the Macedonians, and the nations of Asia who dwelt on the hither side of the river Kisil-Irmak [Note] and the Taurus, took part in these struggles with the Carthaginians: over these Antiochus [Note] was king, and Philip and Perseus, [Note] these therefore the Romans found themselves obliged to subdue. The people likewise of Illyria and Thrace, who were next neighbours to the Greeks and Macedonians, at this time commenced the war with the Romans that never ceased, until the subjugation of all the people who inhabit the countries on the hither side of the Danube [Note] and the Kisil-Irmak [Note] had been effected. The Iberians, and Kelts, and all the rest who are subject to the Romans, shared a similar fate, for the Romans never rested in the subjugation of the land to their sway until they had entirely overthrown it: in the first instance they took Numantia, [Note] and subdued Viriathus, [Note] and afterwards vanquished Sertorius, [Note] and last of all the Cantabrians, [Note] who were brought to subjection by Augustus Cæsar. [Note] Likewise the whole of Gaul both within and beyond the Alps with Liguria were annexed at first by a partial occupation, but subsequently divus Cæsar and then Augustus subdued them completely in open war, so that now [Note] the Romans direct their expeditions against the Germans from these countries as the most convenient rendezvous, and have already adorned their own country with several triumphs over them. Also in Africa all that did not belong to the Carthaginians has been left to the charge of kings owning dependence on the Roman state, while such as have attempted to assert their independence have been overpowered. At the present moment both Maurusia and much of the rest

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of Africa have fallen to the portion of Juba [Note] on account of his good will and friendship towards the Romans. The like things have taken place in Asia. At first it was governed by kings who were dependent on the Romans, and afterwards when their several lines of succession failed, as of that of the kings Attalus, [Note] the kings of the Syrians, [Note] the Paphlagonians, [Note] Cappadocians, [Note] and Egyptians, [Note] [or] when they revolted and were subsequently deposed, as it happened in the case of Mithridates Eupator, and Cleopatra of Egypt, the whole of their territories within the Phasis [Note] and the Euphrates, [Note] with the exception of some tribes of Arabs, were brought completely under the dominion of the Romans and the dynasties set up by them. The Armenians and the people who lie beyond Colchis, both the Albani and Iberians, require nothing more than that Roman governors should be sent among them, and they would be easily ruled; their attempted insurrections are merely the consequence of the want of attention from the Romans, who are so much occupied elsewhere: the like may be asserted of those who dwell beyond the Danube, [Note] and inhabit the banks of the Euxine, excepting only those who dwell on the

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Bosphorus [Note] and the Nomades; [Note] of these the former are in subjection to the Romans, and the latter are unprofitable for commerce on account of their wandering life, and only require to be watched. The rest of the countries [of Asia] are chiefly inhabited by Scenites [Note] and Nomades who dwell at a great distance. The Parthians indeed border on them and are very powerful, but they have yielded so far to the superiority of the Romans and our emperors, that they have not only sent back [Note] to Rome the trophies which they had at a still more distant period taken from the Romans, but Phraates has even sent his sons and his sons' sons to Augustus Cæsar, as hostages, assiduously courting his friendship: [Note] indeed the [Parthians] of the present time frequently send for a king from hence, [Note] and are almost on the point of relinquishing all power to the Romans. We now see Italy, which has frequently been torn by civil war even since it came under the dominion of the Romans, nay, even Rome herself, restrained from rushing headlong into confusion and destruction by the excellence of her form of government and the ability of her emperors. Indeed it were hard to administer the affairs of so great an empire otherwise than by committing them to one man as a father. [Note] For it would never have been in the power of the Romans and their allies to attain to a state of such perfect peace, and the enjoyment of such abundant prosperity, as Augustus Cæsar afforded them from the time that he took upon himself the absolute authority; and which his son Tiberius, who has succeeded him, still maintains, who takes his father for a pattern in his government and ordinances. And in their turn his sons, Germanicus and Drusus, [Note] who are exercising the functions of government under their father, take him for their model.

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Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 6.4.1 Str. 6.4.2 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 7.1.1

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