Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 7.4.3 Str. 7.4.6 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 7.5.1


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.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 7.4.3 Str. 7.4.6 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 7.5.1

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