Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 7.3 Str. 7.4 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 7.5

CHAPTER IV. 7.4.1

AT the bottom of the bay (Carcinites) commences the isthmus [Note] which separates the lake called Sapra, [or the Putrid Lake,] from the sea; it is 40 stadia in width, and forms the

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Tauric or Scythian Chersonese. [Note] This, according to some, is 360 stadia across. The Putrid Lake [Note] is said to extend 4000 stadia (in circumference), and forms part of the [Palus] Mœotis on its western side, with which it communicates by a large opening. It abounds in marshy tracts, and is scarcely navigable with sewn [Note] boats. The shallower parts are soon uncovered, and again covered with water, by the force of the wind; but the marsh will not bear boats of a deeper draught. In the bay are three small islands; and in sailing along the coast, some shallows are met with, and rocks which rise above water. 7.4.2

On the left in sailing out of the bay [Carcinites] there is a small town and another harbour [Note] belonging to the people of the Chersonese; for in coasting along the bay, there projects towards the south a large promontory, which is a part of the great Chersonese. Upon it stands a city of the Heracleotæ, who are a colony from Heraclea [Note] in the Euxine; it bears the same name, Chersonesus, as the territory. It is distant from the Dniester, [Note] in following the coast, 4400 stadia. In this city is a temple of the Virgin, some goddess, [Note] after whom the promontory, which is in front of the city, at the distance of 100 stadia, is called Parthenium. It has a shrine of the goddess and a statue. Between the city [Note] and the promontory are three harbours; next is the Old city Chersonesus in ruins; then follows a harbour with a narrow entrance. It was called Symbolon Limen, or Signal Harbour; and here principally was carried on a system of piracy against those who took

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refuge in the ports. This, together with another harbour, called Ctenus, [Note] forms an isthmus of 40 stadia in extent. This isthmus locks in the Smaller Chersonesus, which we said was a part of the Great Chersonesus, having on it a city of the same name. 7.4.3

It was formerly governed by its own laws, but after it was ravaged by barbarous nations, the inhabitants were obliged to elect as their protector, Mithridates Eupator, who was anxious to direct his forces against the barbarians who lived above the isthmus, and occupied the country as far as the Dnieper and the Adriatic, and thus to prepare himself against war with the Romans. Mithridates, with these views, readily despatched an expedition into the Chersonesus, and carried on war at the same time against the Scythians, Scilurus, and the sons of Scilurus, namely, Palacus and his brothers, whom Posidonius reckons to have been fifty, and Apollonides eighty, in number. By the subjugation of these enemies he became at once master of the Bosporus, which Pairisades, who held the command of it, voluntarily surrendered. From that time to the present the city of the Chersonitæ has been subject to the princes of the Bosporus.

Ctenus is equally distant from the city of the Chersonitæ, and from Symbolon Limen. From Symbolon Limen the Tauric coast extends 1000 stadia to the city Theodosia. [Note] The coast is rugged and mountainous, and during the prevalence of the north winds, tempestuous. From this coast a promontory projects far into the sea, and stretches out southwards towards Paphlagonia, and the city Amastris. It is called Criu-metopon, or Ram's Head. Opposite to it is Ca-

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rambis, [Note] the promontory of the Paphlagonians. Criu-metopon and Carambis together form a strait compressed between them, and divide the Euxine into two parts. Carambis is distant from the city of the Chersonesus 2500 stadia, and from Criu-metopon much less; for many persons who have sailed through the strait say, that they saw both promontories at once. [Note]

In the mountainous district of the Tauri there is a hill called Trapezus, [Note] of the same name as the city, [Note] which is near Tibarania and Colchis. There is another hill also, the Kimmerium, [Note] in the same mountainous district, for the Kimmerii were once sovereigns of the Bosporus, and hence the whole of the strait at the mouth of the [Palus] Mæotis is called the Kimmerian Bosporus. 7.4.4

After leaving the above-mentioned mountainous district, is the city Theodosia, situated on a plain; the soil is fertile, and there is a harbour capable of containing a hundred vessels. This formerly was the boundary of the territory of the Bosporians and of the Tauri. Then follows a fertile country extending to Panticapæum, [Note] the capital of the Bosporians, which is situated at the mouth of the Palus Mæotis. [Note] Between Theodosia [Note] and Panticapæum there is a tract of about 530 stadia in extent. The whole country is corn-producing; there are villages in it, and a city called Nymphæum, with a good harbour.

Panticæpsum is a hill inhabited all round for a circuit of 20 stadia. To the east it has a harbour, and docks capable of containing about thirty vessels; there is also an acropolis. It was founded by the Milesians. Both this place and the neighbouring settlements on each side of the mouth of the Palus Mæotis were for a long period under the monarchical dynasty of Leucon, and Satyrus, and Pairisades, till the latter surrendered the sovereignty to Mithridates. They had the

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name of tyrants, although most of them were moderate and just in their government, from the time of Pairisades and Leucon. Pairisades was accounted even a god. The last sovereign, whose name was also Pairisades, being unable to resist the barbarians, by whom great and unusual tributes were exacted, surrendered the kingdom into the hands of Mithridates. After him it became subject to the Romans. The greater portion of it is situated in Europe, but a part of it is also situated in Asia. 7.4.5

The mouth of the [Palus] Mæotis is called the Kimmerian Bosporus. The entrance, which at the broadest part is about 70 stadia across, where there is a passage from the neighbourhood [Note] of Panticapæum to Phanagoria, the nearest city in Asia. The [Palus] Mæotis closes in an arm of the sea which is much narrower. This arm of the sea and the Don [Note] separate Europe from Asia. Then the Don flows from the north opposite into the lake, and into the Kimmerian Bosporus. It discharges itself into the lake by two mouths, [Note] which are distant from each other about 60 stadia. There is also a city of the same name as the river; and next to Panticapæum it is the largest mart belonging to the barbarians.

On sailing into the Kimmerian Bosporus, [Note] on the left hand is Myrmecium, [Note] a small city, 20 stadia from Panticapæum, and 40 stadia from Parthenium; [Note] it is a village where is the narrowest entrance into the lake, about 20 stadia in breadth; opposite to it is a village situated in Asia, called Achilleum. Thence to the Don, and to the island at its mouths, is a voyage in a direct line of 2200 stadia. The distance is somewhat greater if the voyage is performed along the coast of Asia, but taking the left-hand side, (in which direction the isthmus of the Chersonese is fallen in with,) the distance is more than tripled. This latter course is along the desert shore of Europe, but the

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Asiatic side is not without inhabitants. The whole circum- ference of the lake is 9000 stadia.

The Great Chersonesus resembles Peloponnesus both in figure and size. The kings of the Bosporus possess it, but the whole country has been devastated by continual wars. They formerly possessed a small tract only at the mouth of the [Palus] Mæotis near Panticapæum, extending as far as Theodosia. The largest part of the territory, as far as the isthmus and the Gulf Carcinites, was in possession of the Tauri, a Scythian nation. The whole of this country, comprehending also a portion on the other side of the isthmus as far as the Dnieper, was called Little Scythia. In consequence of the number of people who passed from thence across the Dniester and the Danube, and settled there, no small part of that country also bore the name of Little Scythia. The Thracians surrendered a part of it to superior force, and a part was abandoned on account of the bad quality of the ground, a large portion of which is marshy. 7.4.6

Except the mountainous tract of the Chersonesus on the sea-coast, extending as far as Theodosia, all the rest consist of plains, the soil of which is rich, and remarkably fertile in corn. It yields thirty-fold, when turned up by the most ordinary implements of husbandry. The tribute paid to Mithridates by the inhabitants, including that from the neighbourhood of Sindace in Asia, amounted to 180,000 medimni of corn, and 200 talents of silver. The Greeks in former times imported from this country corn, and the cured fish of Palus Mæotis. Leucon is said to have sent to the Athenians 2,100,000 medimni of corn from Theodosia. [Note]

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The name of Georgi, or husbandmen, was appropriately given to these people, to distinguish them from the nations situated above them, who are nomades, and live upon the flesh of horses and other animals, on cheese of mares' milk, milk, and sour milk. The latter, prepared in a peculiar manner, is a delicacy. [Note] Hence the poet designates all the nations in that quarter as Galactophagi, milk-eaters.

The nomades are more disposed to war than to robbery. The occasion of their contests was to enforce the payment of tribute. They permit those to have land who are willing to cultivate it. In return for the use of the land, they are satisfied with receiving a settled and moderate tribute, not such as will furnish superfluities, but the daily necessaries of life. If this tribute is not paid, the nomades declare war. Hence the poet calls these people both just, and miserable, (Abii,) [Note] for if the tribute is regularly paid, they do not have recourse to war. Payment is not made by those, who have confidence in their ability to repel attacks with ease, and to prevent the incursion of their enemies. This course was pursued, as Hypsicrates relates, by Ansander, who fortified on the isthmus of the Chersonesus, at the Palus Mæotis, a space of 360 stadia, and erected towers at the distance of every 10 stadia. [Note]

The Georgi (husbandmen) are considered to be more civilized and mild in their manners than the other tribes in this quarter, but they are addicted to gain. They navigate the sea, and do not abstain from piracy, nor from similar acts of injustice and rapacity. 7.4.7

Besides the places in the Chersonesus already enumerated, there are the fortresses Palacium, and Chabum, and Neapolis, [Note] which Scilurus and his sons constructed, from which they sallied out against the generals of Mithridates.

There was also a fortress called Eupatorium, built by Diophantus, one of the generals of Mithridates. [Note]

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There is a promontory, distant about 15 stadia from the wall of Chersonesus, which forms a large bay, which bends towards the city. Above this bay is a sea-lake, where there are salt pits. Here was the harbour Ctenus. The generals of the king, in order to strengthen their means of resistance in case of siege, stationed a garrison on the above-mentioned promontory, which was further protected by a fortification. The mouth of the Gulf was closed by an embankment which extended to the city, and was easily traversed on foot. The garrison and the city were thus united. The Scythians were afterwards easily repulsed. They attacked that part of the wall built across the isthmus which touches upon Ctenus, and filled the ditch with straw. The kind of bridge thus formed by day, was burnt at night by the king's generals, who continued their resistance and defeated the enemy. At present the whole country is subject to whomsoever the Romans may appoint as king of the Bosporus. 7.4.8

It is a custom peculiar to all the Scythian and Sarmatian tribes, to castrate their horses, in order to make them more tractable, for although they are small, yet they are spirited, and difficult to manage. Stags and wild boars are hunted in the marshes, and wild asses and roes [Note] in the plains. It is a peculiarity of this country, that no eagles are to be found in it. Among the quadrupeds there is an animal called Colus, in size between a deer and a ram; it is white, and swifter in speed than either of those animals. It draws up water into the head through the nostrils; from this store it can supply itself for several days, and live without inconvenience in places destitute of water.

Such is the nature of the whole of the country beyond the Danube, lying between the Rhine and the Don, and extending as far as the Pontic Sea and the Palus Mæotis.



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