Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 7.2 Str. 7.3 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 7.4

CHAPTER III. 7.3.1

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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7.3.2

The Greeks indeed considered the Getæ to be Thracians. They occupied either bank of the Danube, as also did the Mysians, likewise a Thracian people, now called the Moesi, from whom are descended the Mysians, settled between the Lydians, the Phrygians, and the inhabitants of the Troad. Even the Phrygians themselves are the same as the Briges, a people of Thrace, as also are the Mygdones, the Bebryces, the Mædobithyni, the Bithyni, the Thyni, and, as I consider, also are the Mariandyni. All these people quitted Europe entirely, the Mysians alone remaining. Posidonius appears to me to have rightly conjectured that it is the Mysians of Europe (or as I should say of Thrace) that Homer designates when he says, and his glorious eyes
Averting, on the land look'd down remote
Of the horse-breeding Thracians, of the bold
Close-fighting Mysian race. . . . [Note]
Iliad xiii. 3.
For if any one should understand them as the Mysians of Asia, the expression of the poet would not be fitting. For this would be, that having turned his eyes from the Trojans towards the land of the Thracians, he beheld at the same time the land of the Mysians, situated not far off from where he was, but conterminous with the Troad, rather behind it and on either side, but separated from Thrace by the breadth of the Hellespont. [Note] This would be to confound the continents, and at the same time to disregard the form of the poet's expression. For to turn his eyes again, is more especially to turn them behind him; but he who extends his vision from the Trojans to the people either behind them, or on either side of them, stretches his sight to a greater distance, but not in the least behind him. And this also is introduced as a proof of this very thing, that Homer classes with these the Hippemolgi, [Note] the Galactophagi, [Note] and the Abii, [Note] who are the Scythian Hamaxœci [Note] and Sarmatians; for at this day, all these nations, as well as the Bastarnæ, are mixed with the Thracians, more especially with those beyond the Danube, and some even with

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the Thracians on this side the Danube; also amongst these are the Keltic tribes of the Boii, Scordisci, and Taurisci. Some, indeed, call the Scordisci the Scordistæ, and give to the Taurisci the names of Ligurisci [Note] and Tauristæ. 7.3.3

Posidonius relates that the Mysians religiously abstain from eating any thing that had life, and consequently, from cattle; but that they lived in a quiet way on honey, milk, and cheese; wherefore they are considered a religious people, and called Capnobatæ. [Note] He adds, that there are amongst the Thracians some who live without wives, and who are known by the name of Ctistæ. These are considered sacred and worthy of honour, and live in great freedom. [He pretends] that the poet comprehends the whole of these people when he says, and where abide,
On milk sustain'd, and blest with length of days,
The Hippemolgi, justest of mankind. [Note]
Iliad xiii. 5.
These he designates as without life, more particularly on account of their living without wives, considering their solitary state as but a half life; in the same way as he likewise designates the house of Protesilaus imperfect, on account of the bereavement of his widow; in the same manner he applies to the Mysians the epithet of close-fighting, on account of their being invincible, like good warriors. [Finally, Posidonius pretends] that in the thirteenth [Note] book of the Iliad we ought to substitute for the close-fighting Mysians, [the close-fighting Mœsi.] 7.3.4

Nevertheless it would perhaps be superfluous to change the text [of Homer], which has stood the test of so many years. For it appears more probable to suppose that the people were anciently called Mysians, but that their name is now altered. Further, any one would suppose that the Abii [Note] were no more so named from being unmarried than from their being houseless, [Note] or their dwelling in waggons.

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In fact, as injustice is ordinarily committed in matters relative to bonds for money and the acquisition of wealth, it would be natural that the people living so frugally on such small property should be called [by Homer] the justest of mankind: and the more so as the philosophers who place justice next to moderation, aim at independence of others and frugality as amongst the most desirable objects of attainment; from which however some, having passed the bounds of moderation, have wandered into a cynical mode of life. [Note] But [the words of the poet] sanction no such assertion of the Thracians, and the Getæ in particular, that they live without wives. But see what Menander says of these people, not out of his own imagination, as it should seem, but deriving it from history. All the Thracians truly, and especially above all others we Getæ, (for I myself glory in being descended from this race,) are not very chaste. And a little after he gives examples of their rage for women. For there is no one among us who marries fewer than ten or eleven wives, and some have twelve, or even more. [Note] If any one loses his life who has only married four or five wives, he is lamented by us as unfortunate, and one deprived of the pleasures of Hymen. Such a one would be accounted as unmarried amongst them. These things are likewise confirmed by the evidence of other historians. And it is not likely that the same people should regard as an unhappy life that which is passed without the enjoyment of many women, and at the same time regard as a dignified and holy life that which is passed in celibacy without any women. But that those living without wives should be considered holy, and termed Capnobatæ, is entirely opposed to our received opinions; for all agree in regarding women as the authors of devotion to the gods, and it is they

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who induce the men by their example to a more attentive worship of the gods, and to the observance of feast-days and supplications; for scarcely is there found a man living by himself who pays any regard to such matters. And again attend to the words of the same poet when he speaks in one of his characters, bringing in a man disgusted with the expenses [Note] of the sacrifices of the women. The gods weary us indeed, but especially our married men, who are always obliged to celebrate some feast. And his Misogynes, complaining of the same things, exclaims, We sacrificed five times a day, while seven female slaves ranged in a circle played on the cymbals, and others raised their suppliant cries. It would therefore seem absurd to suppose that only those among the Getæ who remained without wives were considered pious, but that the care of worshipping the Supreme Being is great among this nation is not to be doubted, after what Posidonius has related, and they even abstain from animal food from religious motives, as likewise on account of the testimony of other historians. 7.3.5

For it is said that one of the nation of the Getæ, named Zamolxis, [Note] had served Pythagoras, and had acquired with this philosopher some astronomical knowledge, in addition to what he had learned from the Egyptians, amongst whom he had travelled. He returned to his own country, and was highly esteemed both by the chief rulers and the people, on account of his predictions of astronomical phenomena, and eventually persuaded the king to unite him in the government, as an organ of the will of the gods. At first he was chosen a priest of the divinity most revered by the Getæ, but afterwards was esteemed as a god, and having retired into a district of caverns, inaccessible and unfrequented by other

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men, he there passed his life, rarely communicating with any- body except the king and his ministers. The king himself assisted him to play his part, seeing that his subjects obeyed him more readily than formerly, as promulgating his ordinances with the counsel of the gods. This custom even continues to our time; for there is always found some one of this character who assists the king in his counsels, and is styled a god by the Getæ. The mountain likewise [where Zamolxis retired] is held sacred, and is thus distinguished, being named Cogæonus, [Note] as well as the river which flows by it; and at the time when Byrebistus, against whom divus Cæsar prepared an expedition, reigned over the Getæ, Decæneus held that honour: likewise the Pythagorean precept to abstain from animal food, which was originally introduced by Zamolxis, is still observed to a great extent. 7.3.6

Any one may well entertain such questions as these touching the localities mentioned by the poet [Homer], and with regard to the Mysians and the illustrious Hippemolgi: but what Apollodorus has advanced in his preface to the Catalogue of Ships in the Second Book [of the Iliad] is by no means to be adopted. For he praises the opinions of Eratosthenes, who says that Homer and the rest of the ancients were well versed in every thing that related to Greece, but were in a state of considerable ignorance as to places at a distance, in consequence of the impossibility of' their making long journeys by land or voyages by sea. In support of this he asserts, [Note] that Homer designated Aulis as 'rocky,' as indeed it is; Eteonus as 'mountainous and woody,' Thisbe as 'abounding in doves,' Haliartus as ' grassy;' but that neither Homer nor the others were familiar with localities far off; for although there are forty rivers which discharge themselves into the Black Sea, [Note] he makes no mention whatever even of the most considerable, as the Danube, [Note] the Don, [Note] the Dnieper, [Note] the Bog, [Note] the Phasz, [Note] the Termeh, [Note] the Kisil-Irmak, [Note] nor does

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he even allude to the Scythians, but makes up fables about certain illustrious Hippemolgi, Galactophagi, and Abii. He had become acquainted with the Paphlagonians of the interior from the relations of such as had penetrated into those regions on foot, but he was perfectly unacquainted with the sea-coasts of the country; which indeed was likely enough, for that sea was in his time closed to navigation, and known by the name of Pontus Axenus [or the Inhospitable] on account of the severity of the storms to which it was subject, as well as of the savage disposition of the nations who inhabited its shores, but more especially of the Scythian hordes, [Note] who made a practice of sacrificing strangers, devouring their flesh, and using their skulls for drinking-cups; although at a subsequent period, when the Ionians had established cities along its shores, it was called by the name of Pontus Euxinus [or the Hospitable]. He was likewise in ignorance as to the natural peculiarities of Egypt and Libya, [Note] as the risings of the Nile, and the alluvial deposits, which he no where notices, nor yet the isthmus [of Suez] which separates the Red Sea from the Egyptian Sea; [Note] nor yet does he relate any particulars of Arabia, Ethiopia, or the Ocean, unless we should agree with the philosopher Zeno in altering the Homeric line as follows, I came to the Ethiopians, the Sidonians, and the Arabians. [Note] Indeed we ought not to be surprised at meeting with this in Homer, for those who have lived at a more recent period than he did, have been ignorant of many things, and have told strange tales. Hesiod has talked of Hemicynes, [Note] Megalocephali, and Pygmies; Alcman of Steganopodes;æschylus of Cynocephali, Sternophthalmi, and Monommati, (they say it is in his Prometheus,) and ten thousand other absurdities. From these he proceeds to censure the writers who talk of

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the Riphæan Mountains [Note] and Mount Ogyium, [Note] and the dwelling of the Gorgons [Note] and the Hesperides, [Note] the land of Meropis [Note] mentioned by Theopompus, Cimmeris, [Note] a city mentioned in Hecatæus, the land of Panchæa [Note] mentioned by Euhemerus, and the river-stones formed of sand mentioned by Aristotle, [Note] which were dissolved by rain-showers. Further, that there exists in Africa a city of Bacchus which no one can find twice. He likewise reproves those who assert that the wanderings of Ulysses mentioned in Homer were in the neighbourhood of Sicily, for again, if we should say that the wanderings did take place in those parts, we should have to confess that the poet transferred them to the ocean for the sake of making his account the more romantic. Some allowance might be made for others, but no manner of excuse can be put forward for Callimachus, who pretends to the character of a critic, and yet supposes that Gaudus was the island of Calypso, and identifies Scheria with Corcyra. [Note] Other writers he blames for misstatements as to Gerena, [Note] Acacesium, [Note] and

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the Demus [Note] in Ithaca, Pelethronium [Note] in Pelium, and the Glaucopium at Athens. [Note] With these and a few similar trifling observations, most of which he has drawn from Eratosthenes, whose inaccuracy we have before shown, he breaks off. However, we frankly acknowledge, both with respect to him [Apollodorus] and Eratosthenes, that the moderns are better informed on geography than the ancients: but to strain the subject beyond measure, as they do, especially when they inculpate Homer, seems to me as if it gave a fair occasion to any one to find fault, and to say by way of recrimination, that they reproach the poet for the very things of which they themselves are ignorant. As for the rest of their observations, particular mention is made of some of them in the places where they occur, and of others in the General Introduction. 7.3.7

It has been our wish, while discoursing of the Thracians, and the bold
Close-fighting Mysian race, and where abide,
On milk sustain'd, and blest with length of days,
The Hippemolgi, justest of mankind, [Note]
Iliad xiii. 5

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to compare what we have advanced with the remarks of Posidonius and the other critics. Now, in the first place, they have universally proved the very contrary of the allegations which they had undertaken to maintain; for where they undertook to show that amongst the ancients there was a greater amount of ignorance as to places far from Greece than there was among the moderns, they have proved the very contrary, and that not only with regard to the countries more remote, but even with respect to Greece itself; but, as I have said before, let the other matters remain in abeyance while we consider carefully the subject now before us. Thus they say that it was through ignorance Homer and the ancients omitted to speak of the Scythians, and their cruelty to strangers, whom they sacrificed, devoured their flesh, and afterwards made use of their skulls as drinking-cups, for which barbarities the sea was termed the Axine, [Note] or inhospitable; but in place of these they imagined fables as to illustrious Hippemolgi, Galactophagi, and Abii, the most just of mankind, who never existed any where in this world. But how came it that they named the sea the Axenus, if they were so ignorant of the barbarism of that region, or of those savages who were the most barbarous on earth? But these undoubtedly are the Scythians! Or in the early times were not those who dwelt beyond the Mysians, and Thracians, and Getæ, Hippemolgi, (or milkers of mares,) Galactophagi, and Abii? Nay rather, they exist at this very day, being called Hamaxoeci and Nomades, living on the herd, milk and cheese, and especially on cheese made of mare's milk, and being ignorant how to lay up treasure or deal in merchandise, except the simple barter of one commodity for another. How then can it be said that the poet [Homer] knew nothing of the Scythians, since he doubtless designates some of them by the names of Hippemolgi and Galactophagi? And that the men of that

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time called these people Hippemolgi even Hesiod is a witness in the words which Eratosthenes has quoted: He went and saw the Ethiopians, the Ligurians, [Note] and the Scythians, milkers of mares. And when we consider the amount of fraud connected with trading speculations even amongst ourselves, what ground have we to wonder that Homer should have designated as the justest and most noble those who had but few commercial and monetary transactions, and with the exception of their swords and drinking-cups, possessed all things in common, and especially their wives and children, who were cared for by the whole community according to the system of Plato. æschylus too seems to plead the poet's cause, when he says, But the Scythians, governed by good laws, and feeding on cheese of mares' milk. And this is still the opinion entertained of them by the Greeks; for we esteem them the most sincere, the least deceitful of any people, and much more frugal and self-relying than ourselves. And yet the manner of life customary among us has spread almost every where, and brought about a change for the worse, effeminacy, luxury, and over-great refinement, inducing extortion in ten thousand different ways; and doubtless much of this corruption has penetrated even into the countries of the nomades, as well as those of the other barbarians; for having once learnt how to navigate the sea, they have become depraved, committing piracy and murdering strangers; and holding intercourse with many different nations, they have imitated both their extravagance and their dishonest traffic, which may indeed appear to promote civility of manners, but do doubtless corrupt the morals and lead to dissimulation, in place of the genuine sincerity we have before noticed. 7.3.8

Those however who lived before our time, and more especially those who lived near to the times of Homer, were such as he describes them, and so they were esteemed to be by the Greeks. Take for instance what Herodotus relates concerning the king [Note] of the Scythians, against whom Darius waged war, and especially the answer he sent [to the messen-

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ger of Darius]. Take again what Chrysippus relates of the kings of the Bosphorus, [Satyrus [Note] and] Leuco. The letters of the Persians are full of the sincerity I have described; so likewise are the memorials of the Egyptians, Babylonians, and Indians. It was on this account that both Anacharsis and Abaris, and certain others of the same class, gained so great a reputation among the Greeks; for we may well believe they displayed their national characteristics of affability of manner, simplicity, and love of justice. But what occasion is there for me to speak of such as belonged to the times of old? for Alexander [the Great], the son of Philip, in his campaign against the Thracians beyond Mount Hæmus, [Note] is said to have penetrated as far as this in an incursion into the country of the Triballi, and observed that they occupied the territory as far as the Danube and the island Peuce, [Note] which is in it, and that the Getæ possessed the country beyond that river; however, he was unable to pass into the island for want of a sufficient number of ships, and because Syrmus, the king of the Triballi, who had taken refuge in that place, resisted the undertaking: but Alexander crossed over into the country of the Getæ and took their city, after which he returned home in haste, carrying with him presents from those nations, and also from Syrmus. Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, relates that in this campaign the Kelts who dwell on the Adriatic [Note] came to Alexander for the purpose of making a treaty of friendship and mutual hospitality, and that the king received them in a friendly way, and asked them, while drinking, what might be the chief object of their dread, supposing that they would say it was he; but that they replied, it was no man, only they felt some alarm lest the heavens should on some occasion or other

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fall on them, but that they valued the friendship of such a man as him above every thing. These examples sufficiently manifest the open sincerity of the barbarians, both of the one who would not suffer Alexander to land on the island, but nevertheless sent presents and concluded a treaty of friendship with him, and also of those who asserted that they feared no man, but that they valued the friendship of great men above every price.

In like manner Dromichætes, who was king of the Getæ in the times of the successors of Alexander, having taken captive Lysimachus, who had come to wage war against him, showed him his poverty and that of his people, and likewise their great frugality, bade him not to make war on such, but rather seek them as friends; after which he received him as a guest, made a treaty of friendship, and suffered him to depart. [Note] [*And Plato, in his Republic, [Note] considers that the neighbourhood of the sea ought to be shunned as being productive of vice, and that those who would enjoy a well-governed city, should plant it very far from the sea, and not near it. [Note]] 7.3.9

Ephorus, in the fourth book of his History, which is entitled Of Europe, having gone over Europe as far as the Scythians, concludes by saying that there is great difference in the manner of life both of the Sauromatæ and the other Scythians, for while some of them are exceedingly morose, and are indeed cannibals, others abstain even from the flesh of animals. Other historians, he observes, descant upon their ferocity, knowing that the terrible and the wonderful always excite attention; but they ought also to relate the better features of these people, and point to them as a pattern; for his part, he declares he will speak of those who excel in the justness of their actions, as there are some of the nomade Scythians who subsist on mares' milk, and excel all

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men in their justice, these are mentioned by the poets: as Homer, where he says that Jupiter beheld the land Of the Galactophagi and Abii, justest of mankind; [Note]
Iliad xiii. 5.
and Hesiod, in his poem entitled Travels round the World, who says that Phineus was taken by the Harpies To the land of the Galactophagi, who have their dwellings in waggons.
Ephorus then proceeds to state the causes of their justice, because they are frugal in their mode of life, not hoarders of wealth, and just towards each other; they possess everything in common, both their women, their children, and the whole of their kin; thus when they come into collision with other nations, they are irresistible and unconquered, having no cause for which they need endure slavery. He then cites Chœrilus, who in his Passage of the Bridge of Boats, which Darius [Note] had made, says, And the sheep-feeding Sacæ, a people of Scythian race, but they inhabited Wheat-producing Asia: truly they were a colony of the nomades, A righteous race. And again Ephorus declares of Anacharsis, whom he designates as The Wise, that he was sprung from that race; and that he was reckoned as one of the Seven Sages, on account of his pre-eminent moderation and knowledge. He asserts too that he was the inventor of the bellows, the double- fluked anchor, and the potter's wheel. [Note] I merely state this, although I know very well that Ephorus is not at all times to be relied on, especially when speaking of Anacharsis; (for how can the wheel be his invention, with which Homer, who is anterior to him, was acquainted; [who says], as when, before his wheel
Seated, the potter twirls it with both hands," &c.; [Note])
Iliad xviii. 600.

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for I wish to show by these references, that there was a ge- neral impression among both the ancients and moderns with regard to the nomades, that some were very far removed from the rest of mankind, that they subsisted on milk, and were very frugal, [Note] and the most just of men, and that all this was not the mere invention of Homer. 7.3.10

It is but just too that Apollodorus should give some explanation respecting the Mysians mentioned in the Epic poems of Homer, whether he takes them to be but people of his feigning, when the poet says, Of the close-fighting Mysians and the illustrious Hippemolgi, [Note]
Iliad xiii. 5.
or would he regard them as the Mysians of Asia? Now if he should declare that he considers them to be those of Asia, he will misinterpret the poet, as has been before observed; but if he should say they were but an invention, as there were no Mysians in Thrace, he will be guilty of a palpable misstatement, for even in our own times ælius Catus has removed from the opposite side of the Danube into Thrace fifty thousand Getæ, who speak a language cognate with the Thracian. They still inhabit the very spot, and pass by the name of Mœsi. Whether those of former times were so designated, and had their name slightly varied in Asia, or, as is more suitable to history and the poet's expression, those in Thrace were at the first called Mysians, [Note] is not certain. But enough of this; we must now return to our geography. 7.3.11

Let us pass over the early history of the Getæ, and occupy ourselves with their actual condition. Bœrebistas, one of the Getæ, having taken the command of his tribe, reanimated the men who were disheartened by frequent wars, and raised them to such a degree of training, sobriety, and a habit of obedience to orders, that he established a powerful dominion within a few years, and brought most of the neighbouring states into subjection to the Getæ. He at length became formidable even to the Romans, fearlessly crossing the Danube, and laying waste Thrace as far as Macedonia and Illyria; he also subdued the Kelts who live among the Thracians and Illyrians, and thoroughly annihilated the Boii who were subject to Critasirus and the Taurisci. In order to

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maintain the obedience of his subjects, he availed himself of the assistance of Decseneus a sorcerer, [Note] who had travelled in Egypt, and who, by predictions he had learnt to draw from certain natural signs, was enabled to assume the character of an oracle, and was almost held in the veneration of a god, as we have related when noticing Zamolxis. [Note] As an instance of their implicit obedience, we may relate that they were persuaded to root up their vines and live without wine. However, Bœrebistas was murdered in a sedition before the Romans sent an army against him. Those who succeeded to his government divided it into several states. Lately, when Augustus Cæsar sent an army against them, they were divided into five states, at another time they were four, for such divisions are but temporary in duration, and variable in their extent. 7.3.12

There was, from ancient times, another division of these people which still exists; thus, some they call Dacians and others Getæ: the Getæ extend towards the Euxine and the east, but the Dacians are situated on the opposite side towards Germany and the sources of the Danube, [Note] whom I consider to have been called Daci from a very early period. Whence also amongst the Attics the names of Getæ and Davi were customary for slaves. This at least is more probable than to consider them as taken from the Scythians who are named Daæ, [Note] for they live far beyond Hyrcania, [Note] and it is not likely that slaves would be brought all that way into Attica. It was usual with them to call their slaves after the name of the nation from whence they were brought, as Lydus and Syrus, [Note] or else by a name much in use in their own country, as, for a Phrygian, Manes or Midas; for a Paphlagonian, Tibius. The nation which was raised to so much power by Bœrebistas has since been completely reduced by

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civil dissensions and contests with the Romans; however, they are still able to set out 40,000 men armed for the wars. 7.3.13

The river Maros [Note] flows through their country into the Danube, [Note] on which the Romans transported their military stores; for thus they termed the upper part of that river from its sources to the cataracts, which flows chiefly through the country of the Dacians, but the part below that point which flows through the country of the Getæ as far as the Black Sea, they call the Ister. [Note] The Dacians speak the same language as the Getæ. The Getæ are best known among the Greeks on account of the frequent wandering expeditions they make on both sides of the Danube, and their being mixed among the Thracians and Mysians. The like is the case with regard to the nation of the Triballi, a Thracian people; for they have received many refugees on occasions when their more powerful neighbours have driven out the weaker, for from time to time the Scythians of the opposite side of the river, and the Bastarnæ, and the Sarmatians, [Note] become victorious, and those who are driven out cross over and some of them take up their residence either in the islands of the river or in Thrace, while on the other side the inhabitants are distressed by the Illyrians. At one time when the Getæ and the Dacians had increased to the greatest numbers, they were able to set on foot an army of two hundred thousand men, but now they are reduced to about forty thousand men, and are even likely to become subject to the Romans; still they are not yet quite under their sway on account of their trust in the Germans, who are enemies to the Romans. 7.3.14

Between [the Getæ and] the Black Sea, from the Danube to the Dniester, [Note] lies the desert of the Getæ. [Note] It is entirely a plain and destitute of water. It was there that Darius the son of Hystaspes, at the time he crossed the Danube, was in danger of being cut off with his whole army

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for want of water; this he found out before it was too late, and returned. At a subsequent period, when Lysimachus was waging war against the Getæ and their king Dromichætes, he not only incurred the risk, [Note] but he fell into the hands of the enemy; but his life was spared by the courtesy of the barbarian, as I have before related. 7.3.15

Near the mouths of the Danube is the large island called Peuce. [Note] This the Bastarnæ possessed, and were hence called Peucini. There are also other islands much smaller, some above this, and others nearer the sea. The Danube has seven mouths, the largest is called the Sacred Mouth, [Note] the passage by which to Peuce is 120 stadia. [Note] At the lower part of this island Darius made his bridge. It might likewise have been constructed at the upper part. This is the first mouth on the left-hand side as you sail into the Black Sea; the rest are passed while sailing along towards the Dniester; the seventh mouth is distant from this first mouth about 300 stadia. These mouths form several islands. The first three mouths next after the Sacred Mouth are but small, the remainder are much less than it, but greater than any of the three. Ephorus states that the Danube has five mouths. From hence to the Dniester, [Note] which is a navigable river, there are 900 stadia. [Note] In the district intervening there are two great lakes; one is open to the sea, and is used as a harbour, [Note] the other has no outlet. 7.3.16

At the mouth of the Dniester there is a tower called the Tower of Neoptolemus, and a village called Hermōnax. [Note] As you sail up the river 140 stadia, there are cities on both sides; the one is Niconia, [Note] and that on the left Ophiussa. [Note] Those who dwell on the spot say that the city is but 120

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stadia up the river. The island of Leuce [Note] is distant from the river's mouth a course of 500 stadia; it is quite in the sea, and is sacred to Achilles. 7.3.17

Next is the Dnieper, [Note] a river navigable to the distance of 600 [Note] stadia, and near to it another river, the Bog, [Note] and an island [Note] lying before the mouth of the Dnieper, which possesses a haven. After sailing up the Borysthenes [Note] 200 stadia, you come to the city of like name with the river, which is likewise called Olbia; [Note] it is a great emporium and a foundation of the Milesians. Of the region lying inland from the coast we have described between the Dnieper and the Danube, the first portion is the Desert of the Getæ, then comes the Tyregetæ, after them the Jazyges Sarmatæ, and the Basilii, who are also called Urgi. [Note] Most of these people are nomades. However, a few of them pay attention to agriculture. These are said to inhabit the banks of the Danube, frequently even on both sides of the river. In the inland the Bastarnæ dwell, and confine with the Tyregetæ and the Germans; indeed, they may almost be said to be of the German stock. They are divided into many tribes, as some are called Atmoni, some Sidones, those who inhabit the island Peuce [Note] in the Danube, Peucini, and the most northern, Roxolani. [Note] These latter de- pasture the plains lying between the Don [Note] and the Dnieper.

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Indeed the whole of the northern regions with which we are acquainted, from Germany to the Caspian, is an extended plain. Whether any dwell still farther than the Roxolani is unknown to us. However, the Roxolani fought against the generals of Mithridates Eupator. Their leader was Tasius. They came as allies of Palacus, the son of Scilurus, and were considered good soldiers, but against the serried and well- armed phalanx every barbarous and light-armed tribe is ineffective. Thus they, although numbering fifty thousand men, could not withstand the six thousand arrayed by Diophantus, the general of Mithridates, but were almost all cut to pieces. They make use of helmets and breastplates made of untanned ox-hide. They bear wicker shields; and as weapons, lances, the bow, and the sword, such as most of the other barbarians do. The woollen tents of the nomades are fixed upon their chariots, in which they pass their lives. Their herds are scattered round their tents, and they live on the milk, the cheese, and the meat which they supply. They shift their quarters ever in search of pasture, changing the places they have exhausted for others full of grass. In the winter they encamp in the marshes near the Palus Mæotis, [Note] and in the summer on the plains. 7.3.18

The whole of this country, which reaches to the seacoast extending from the Dnieper [Note] to the Palus Mæotis, is subject to severe winters; so also are the most northern of the districts bordering on the sea, as the mouth of the Palus Mæotis, and farther that of the Dnieper and the head of the Gulf of Tamyraca, or Carcinites, [Note] which washes the isthmus [Note] of the Magna Chersonesus. The intense cold of the districts inhabited, notwithstanding their being plains, is manifest, for they rear no asses, as that animal is too susceptible of cold; some of their oxen are without horns by nature, of the others they file off the horns, as a part most susceptible of injury from cold. Their horses are diminutive and their sheep large. Their brazen vessels are split with the frosts, and their contents frozen into a solid mass. However, the rigour of the frosts may be best illustrated by the phenomena which are

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common in the neighbourhood of the embouchure of the Palus Mæotis; [Note] for the passage from Panticapæum, [Note] across to Phanagoria, [Note] is at times performed in waggons, thus being both a sea passage [Note] and an overland route [as the season may determine]. There are also fish which are taken in the ice by means of a round net called a gangama, and especially a kind of sturgeon called antacæus, [Note] nearly the size of a dolphin. It is related that Neoptolemus, the general of Mithridates, [Note] defeated the barbarians during summer-time in a naval engagement in this very strait, and during the winter in a cavalry action. They say that about the Bosphorus the vine is hidden away in the earth in winter, great mounds of mould being piled over it [to preserve it from the frost]. They also report that the heats are excessive, [this may be accounted for in several ways,] perhaps men's bodies not being accustomed to them, feel them the more; perhaps the plains are at that time unrefreshed by winds; or perhaps the thickness of the air is heated to a great degree, similar to the way in which the misty air is affected in times when a parhelion is observed.

It appears that Ateas, [Note] who carried on war against Philip, [Note] the son of Amyntas, had the rule over most of the barbarians of these parts. 7.3.19

After the island [Note] situated opposite the mouth of the Dnieper, in sailing towards the east, we arrive at the cape of the Course of Achilles. [Note] The district is quite bare, notwithstanding that it is termed a wood. It is sacred to Achilles. Then we arrive at the Course of Achilles, a low peninsula; for it is a certain tongue of land about a thousand stadia in length, running out towards the east, and its width is but two

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stadia [Note] in the broadest part, and but four plethra [Note] in the narrowest. It is distant from the main-land, which runs out on both sides of the neck, about 60 stadia. It is sandy, but water is obtainable by digging. About the midst of the Course of Achilles [Note] is the neck of the isthmus [joining it to the main-land]. It is about 40 stadia in breadth, and terminates in a headland which they call Tamyraca. [Note] This possesses an anchorage opposite the main-land. Next comes the Gulf Carcinites, which is of considerable extent, reaching towards the north [Note] about 1000 stadia. Some affirm that it is three times that distance to the head of the gulf . . . . . . . . are called Taphrii. They likewise call the Gulf Carcinites the Gulf Tamyraca, the same as the headland.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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