Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 7.3.12 Str. 7.3.16 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 7.4.2


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.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 7.3.12 Str. 7.3.16 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 7.4.2

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