Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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For such fables as these, Posidonius justly blames these writers, and not inaptly conjectures that the Cimbri, on account of their wandering life and habits of piracy, might have made an expedition as far as the countries around the Palus Mæotis, and that from them has been derived the name of the Cimmerian Bosphorus, or what we should more correctly denominate the Cimbrian Bosphorus, for the Greeks call the Cimbri Cimmerii.

He likewise tells us that the Boii formerly inhabited the Hercynian Forest, and that the Cimbri, having made an incursion into those parts, were repulsed by them, and driven towards the Danube, and the country occupied by the Scordisci, a Galatic tribe, and from thence to the Tauristæ, or Taurisci, a people likewise of Galatic origin, and farther to the Helvetii, who were at that time a rich and peaceful people; but, perceiving that the wealth of these freebooters far exceeded their own, the Helvetii, and more especially the Tigureni and the Toygeni, associated themselves with their expeditions. But both the Cimbri and their auxiliaries were vanquished by the Romans, the one part when they crossed the Alps and came down upon Italy, the others on the other side of the Alps. 7.2.3

It is reported that the Cimbri had a peculiar custom. They were accompanied in their expeditions by their wives; these were followed by hoary-headed priestesses, [Note] clad in white, with cloaks of carbasus [Note] fastened on with clasps, girt with brazen girdles, and bare-footed. These individuals, bearing drawn swords, went to meet the captives throughout the camp, and, having crowned them, led them to a brazen vessel containing about 20 amphoræ, and placed on a raised

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platform, which one of the priestesses having ascended, and holding the prisoner above the vessel, cut his throat; then, from the manner in which the blood flowed into the vessel, some drew certain divinations; while others, having opened the corpse, and inspected the entrails, prophesied victory to their army. In battle too they beat skins stretched on the wicker sides of chariots, which produces a stunning noise. 7.2.4

As we have before stated, the northernmost of the Germans inhabit a country bordering on the ocean; but we are only acquainted with those situated between the mouths of the Rhine and the Elbe, of which the Sicambri [Note] and Cimbri [Note] are the most generally known: those dwelling along the coast [Note] beyond the Elbe are entirely unknown to us; for none of the ancients with whom I am acquainted have prosecuted this voyage towards the east as far as the mouths of the Caspian Sea, neither have the Romans as yet sailed coastwise beyond the Elbe, nor has any one travelling on foot penetrated farther into this country. But it is evident, by the climates and the parallels of distances, that in following a longitudinal course towards the east we must come to the countries near the Dnieper, and the regions on the north side of the Euxine. But as for any particulars as to Germany beyond the Elbe, or of the countries which lie beyond it in order, whether we should call them the Bastarnæ, as most geographers suppose, or whether other nations intervene, such as the Jazyges, [Note] or the Roxolani, [Note] or any others of the tribes dwelling in waggons, it is not easy to give any account. Neither can we say whether these nations extend as far as the [Northern] Ocean, along the whole distance, or whether [between them and the Ocean] there are countries rendered unfit for habitation by the cold or by any other cause; or whether men of a different race are situated between the sea and the most eastern of the Germans.

The same uncertainty prevails with regard to the other

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nations [Note] of the north, for we know neither the Bastarnæ nor the Sauromatæ; [Note] nor, in a word, any of those tribes situate above the Euxine: we are ignorant as to what distance they lie from the Atlantic, [Note] or even whether they extend as far as that sea.


As to the southern part of Germany beyond the Elbe, the country which adjoins the bank of that river is now occupied by the Suevi. Next lies the country of the Getæ, at first narrow, its southern side extends along the Danube, and the opposite side along the mountains of the Hercynian Forest, even including part of those mountains, it then becomes broader towards the north, and extends as far as the Tyregetæ; however, we are unable to declare its boundaries with accuracy; and it is on account of our ignorance of these places that those who relate fables of the Riphæan mountains and the Hyperboreans have received credit; as also that which Pytheas of Marseilles has forged concerning the countries bordering on the Northern Ocean, making use of his acquaintance with astronomy and mathematics to fabricate his false narration: let us therefore pass over them; as also what Sophocles, speaking of Orithya in one of his tragedies, says, that she, being snatched by the north wind, was carried Over the whole ocean, to the extremities of the earth,
Even to the place where night received its birth,
Where the opposite side of the heavens is beheld,
And where is situated the ancient garden of Phœbus.
This is of no value to our present inquiry, but must be omitted, as Socrates has done in the Phædrus of Plato. We will relate only what we have learnt from ancient accounts, and the reports made in our times.

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Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 7.1.5 Str. 7.2.4 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 7.3.3

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