Pliny,   Natural History

-   Book 6 ,   sections 1-70


Translated by H.Rackham (1952), with some minor alterations. Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each chapter.  

In this web version, many of the place names have been altered to reproduce the Latin spellings - for instance, 'Massilia' instead of 'Marseilles'. Wherever possible, links are provided to further information about the places. 

  ← Book 5

{1.} L   [1] The Euxine or Black Sea, formerly because of its inhospitable roughness called the Axine, owing to a peculiar jealousy on the part of Nature, which here indulges the sea's greed without any limit, actually spreads into Europe and Asia. The Ocean was not content to have encircled the earth, and with still further cruelty to have reft away a portion of her surface, nor to have forced an entrance through a breach in the mountains and rent Calpe away from Africa, so devouring a larger area than it left remaining, nor to have swallowed up a further space of land and flooded the Propontis through the Hellespont; even beyond the Bosporus also it widens out into another desolate expanse, with an appetite unsatisfied until Lake Maeotis links on its own trespass to its encroachments. [2] That this event occurred against the will of the earth is proved by the number of narrows, and by the smallness of the gaps left by Nature's resistance, measuring at the Hellespont 875 paces, at the Bosporus and the Cimmerian Bosporus the passage being actually fordable by oxen - which fact gives both of them their name and also by a certain harmonious affinity contained in their disseverance, as the singing of birds and barking of dogs on one side can be heard on the other, and even the interchange of human speech, conversation going on between the two worlds, save when the actual sound is carried away by the wind.

[3] The dimension of the Black Sea from the Hellespont to Lake Maeotis is given by some authorities as 1438 miles, but Eratosthenes makes it 100 miles less. Agrippa gives the distance from Calchadon to the river Phasis as 1000 miles and from that river to the Cimmerian Bosporus as 360 miles. We shall state the distances in sections as ascertained in our own time, inasmuch as there has been dispute even about the mouth of the Cimmerian Bosporus.

[4] Well then, after the mouth of the Hellespont is the river Rebas, called by some the Rhesus; then Syris, and Port Calpas, and the Sangaris, a famous river which rises in Phrygia and into which flow some very large tributaries, among them the Tembrogius and the Gallus; its name is commonly given as Sagiarius; the Coralius where the Mariandyni territory begins; the bay of Heraclea, and the town of that name on the river Lycus - it is 200 miles from the mouth of the Black Sea - the port of Aconae, of evil repute for the poison called aconite, the Acherusian Cavern, the rivers Paedopides, Callichorus and Sonautes, the town of Tium 38 miles from Heraclea, and the river Billis.

{2.} L   [5] Beyond this river is the Paphlagonian race, called by some the Pylaemenian, enclosed to the rear by Galatia, the Milesian town of Mastya, then Cromna, a place with which Cornelius Nepos connects the Eneti, from whom he thinks the Veneti in Italy bearing a similar name must be believed to be descended; the town of Sesamon, now called Amastris; Mount Cytorus, 63 miles from Tium; the towns of Cimolis and Stephane and the river Parthenius. [6] The great projection of Cape Carambis is 325 miles, or according to others 350 miles, distant from the mouth of the Black Sea, and the same distance, or, by an estimate which some prefer, 312½ miles from the Cimmerian Bosporus. There was formerly also a town of the same name, and then another called Armine; and at the present day there is the colony of Sinope, 164 miles from Cytorus; the river Evarchus, a tribe of Cappadocians, the town of Caturia Zacepluni, and the river Halys that flows down from the base of Mount Taurus through Cataonia and Cappadocia; [7] the towns of Gamge and Carusa, the free town of Amisus 130 miles from Sinope, and the bay of the same name which runs so far inland as to give to Asia the shape of a peninsula, the isthmus measuring not more than 200 miles across to the Gulf of Issus in Cilicia. It is reported that in all this region there are only three races that can rightly be designated Greek, the Dorian, the Ionian and the Aeolian, all the rest being tribes of barbarians. To Amisus was attached the town of Eupatoria, founded by Mithridates; after he had been conquered, the two places were united under the name of Pompeiopolis.

{3.} L   [8] Cappadocia contains in its interior a colony of Claudius Caesar named Archelais, past which flows the river Halys, and the towns of Comana on the Salius, Neocaesarea on the Lycus, and Amasia on the Iris in the region of Gazacena; while in the Colopene region are Sebastia and Sebastopolis, which are small towns but equal in importance to those mentioned above; and in the remaining part of Cappadocia are Melita, founded by Samiramis, not far from the Euphrates, Diocaesarea, Tyana, Castabala, Magnopolis, Zela, and under Mount Argaeus Mazacus, now named Caesarea. [9] The part of Cappadocia adjacent to Greater Armenia is called Melitene, the part bordering on Commagene Cataonia, that on Phrygia Garsauritis, that on Cammanene Sargaurasana, that on Galatia Morimene, where the boundary between the two countries is formed by the river Cappadox, from which the Cappadocians take their name - they were formerly called the White Syrians. The boundary between Neocaesarea above mentioned and Lesser Armenia is the river Lycus. In the interior there is also the notable river Coeranus, and on the coast after Amisus the town of Chadisia with the river of the same name, and the town of Lycastus, after which the district of Themiscyra begins. [10] The river here is the Iris, with a tributary the Lycus. Inland is Zela, the city-state famous for the defeat of Triarius and the victory of Gaius Caesar. On the coast is the river Thermodon, which rises at the fortress called Phanoria and flows past the foot of Mount Amazon; there was formerly a town of the same name as the river, and five others, Amazonium, Themiscyra, Sotira, Amasia and Comana, and now there is Matium; {4.} L [11] the Caenares and Chalybes tribes, the town of Cotyorum, the tribes of the Tibareni and the Massyni - the latter practise tattooing - the Macrocephali tribe, the town of Cerasus, the harbour of Cordule, the Bechires and Buxeri tribes, the River Melas, the Machorones tribe, the Sideni, and the river Sidenus which washes the town of Polemonium 120 miles from Amisus. Then come the rivers Tasonius and Melanthius, and 80 miles from Amisus the town of Pharnacea, the fortress and river Tripolis, the fortress and river Philocalia and the fortress of Liviopolis, which is not on a river, and 100 miles from Pharnacea the free town of Trapezus, shut in by a vast mountain range. [12] Beyond Trapezus begins the Armenochalybes tribe, and 30 miles further Greater Armenia. On the coast before reaching Trapezus is the river Pyxites, and beyond Trapezus the Sanni Heniochi, and the river Absarrus with the fortress of the same name in its gorge, 140 miles from Trapezus. Behind the mountains of this district is Hiberia, and on the coast the Heniochi, the Ampreutae and the Lazi, the rivers Acampseon, Isis, Mogrus and Bathys, the Colchian tribes, the town of Matium, the River of Heracles and the cape of the same name, and the Phasis, the most celebrated river of the Black Sea region. [13] The Phasis rises among the Moschi and is navigable for ships of any size for 38 miles, and a long way further for smaller vessels; it is crossed by 120 bridges. It had a considerable number of towns on its banks, the most notable being Tyndaris, Circaeus, Cygnus, and at its mouth Phasis; but the most famous was Aea, 15 miles from the sea, where two very large tributaries join the Phasis from opposite directions, the Hippos and the Cyaneos. At the present day the only town on the Phasis is Surium, which itself also takes its name from a river that enters the Phasis at the point up to which we said that it is navigable for large vessels. It also receives other tributaries remarkable for their size and number, among them the Glaucus; at its mouth is an island with no name, 70 miles from Absarrus. [14] Then there is another river, the Charicis, the Saltiae tribe called of old the Phthirophagi, and another tribe, the Sanni; the river Chobus flowing from the Caucasus through the Suani territory; then Rhoan, the Egritic district, the rivers Sigania, Thersos, Astelphus and Chrysorrhoas, the Absilae tribe, the fortress of Sebastopolis 100 miles from Phasis, the Sanicae tribe, the town of Cygnus, the river and town of Penius; and then tribes of the Heniochi with a variety of names.

{5.} L   [15] Below this lies the Black Sea district named Colica, in which the Caucasus range curves round to the Ripaean Mountains, as we have previously stated, one side sloping down towards the Black Sea and the Maeotis, and the other towards the Caspian and Hyrcanian Sea. The tribes occupying almost all the rest of the coasts are the Melanchlaeni and the Coraxi, with the Colchian city of Dioscurias on the river Anthemus, now deserted, but once so famous that according to Timosthenes 300 tribes speaking different languages used to resort to it; and subsequently business was carried on there by Roman traders with the help of a staff of 130 interpreters. [16] Some people think that Dioscurias was founded by the charioteers of Castor and Pollux, Amphitus and Thelchius, from whom it is virtually certain that the Heniochi tribe are descended. The town of Heracleum is 100 miles from Dioscurias and 70 miles from Sebastopolis. The tribes here are the Achaei, Mardi and Cercetae, and after these the Serri and Cephalotomi. In the interior of this region was the extremely wealthy town of Pityus, which was sacked by the Heniochi. Behind Pityus are the Epagerritae, a Sarmatian people on the Caucasus range, and after them come the Sauromatians. [17] It was with this tribe that Mithridates took refuge in the principate of Claudius, and from him we learn that there is a neighbouring tribe, the Thali, who on the eastern side extend to the mouth of the Caspian Sea, where, he tells us, the channel dries up at low tide. On the coast of the Black Sea near the Cercetae is the river Icarus, and the Achaei, with their Holy Town and River, 136 miles from Heracleum. Then comes Cape Crunoe, after which a steep cliff is occupied by the Toretae, and then the city-state of Sindica, 67 miles from Holy Town, and the river Secheries.

{6.} L   [18] The distance from the Secheries to the Cimmerian Bosporus is 88 miles. But the actual peninsula projecting between the Black Sea and Lake Maeotis is not more than 671 miles long, its breadth being nowhere below 80 yards; it is called Eone. The actual coast of the Bosporus on both the Asiatic and the European sides curves into the Maeotis . The towns at its entrance are Hermonasa and next the Milesian town of Cepi, then Stratoclia and Phanagoria and the almost deserted town of Apaturos, and at the extreme end of the mouth Cimmerium, the former name of which was Cerberion.

{7.} L   Then comes Lake Maeotis, which is held to be in Europe.

[19] After passing Cimmerium, the tribes inhabiting the coast are the Maeotici, Hali, Semes, Sebi, Scizi and Gnissi. Next come the two mouths of the river Tanais, where the inhabitants are the Sarmatae, said to be descended from the Medes, and themselves divided into a number of sections. The first of these are the Matriarchal Sauromatae, the husbands of the Amazons; then the Naevazae, Coitae, Cizici, Messeniani, Cotobacchi, Cetae, Zigae, Tindari, Thussegetae and Tyrcae, which brings us to uninhabited deserts intersected by wooded glens, beyond which are the Arimphaei, who reach to the Ripaean Mountains. [20] The Tanais, itself is called by the natives the Silis, and the Maeotis the Temarunda, which means in their language 'the mother of the sea.' There is also a town at the mouth of the Tanais. The neighbouring districts were first occupied by the Carians, then by the Clazomenians and Maeones, and afterwards by the Panticapaeans. Some give the following list of tribes round the Maeotis near the Ceraunian Mountains: starting from the coast the Naprae, [21] and higher up the Essedones, joining on to the Colchians on the tops of the mountains. Then the Camacae, Orani, Autacae, Mazamacae, Cantiocaptae, Agamathae, Pici, Itymosoli and Acascomarci, and near the Caucasus range the Icatalae, Imadochi, Rami, Andacae, Tydii, Carastasei and Authiandes; the river Lagous flowing down from the Cathean Mountains, with its tributary the Opharus, where are the Cauthadae and Opharitae tribes; the rivers Menotharus and Imityes flowing from the Cissian Mountains; below these the Agdaes, Carnae, Oscardei, Accisi, Gabri and Gegari, and round the source of the Imityes the Imityi and Apartaei. [22] Other writers say that the Scythian tribes of the Auchetae, Athernei and Asampatae have spread into this country, and have destroyed the Tanaitae and Inapaei to a man. Some state that the river Ocharius runs through the Cantici and Sapei, but that the Tanais has passed through the Hertichean tribe of Satharchei, the Spondolici, Synhietae, Anasi, Issi, Cataeetae, Tagorae, Caroni, Neripi, Agandei, Meandaraei and Spalaean Satharchei.

{8.} L   [23] We have gone over the inner coast and rivers of Asia and all the tribes dwelling on it; let us now give an account of the vast region that lies in the interior. I do not deny that my description of it will differ in many points from that of the old writers, as I have devoted much care and attention to ascertaining thoroughly the recent events in that region from Domitius Corbulo and the kings sent from there as suppliants or king's children sent as hostages. We will however begin with the Cappadocian tribe. [24] This extends farthest into the interior of all the peoples of Pontus, passing on its left-hand side Lesser Armenia and Greater Armenia and Commagene and on its right all the tribes of Asia mentioned above; it spreads over a very large number of peoples, and rises rapidly in elevation towards the east in the direction of the Taurus range, passing Lycaonia, Pisidia and Cilicia, and then advances above the region of Antioch, the part of it called Cataonia reaching as far as the district named Cyrrhestica. Consequently the length of Asia at this point is 1250 miles and its breadth 640 miles.

{9.} L   [25] Greater Armenia begins at the Parihedri Mountains, and is separated from Cappadocia, as we have said, by the river Euphrates and, when the Euphrates turns aside from Mesopotamia by the equally famous river Tigris. Both rivers rise in Armenia, and it forms the beginning of Mesopotamia, the tract of country lying between these two rivers; the intervening space is occupied by the Orroean Arabs. It thus extends its frontier as far as Adiabene, where it is enclosed by ranges of mountains that stretch across it; here it spreads its width on the left, crossing the Araxes, to the river Cyrus, while its length reaches right to Lesser Armenia, from which it is separated by the river Absarrus, which flows into the Black Sea, and by the Parihedri Mountains in which the Absarrus rises.

{10.} [26] The source of the Cyrus is in the Heniochi Mountains, which are called by some persons the Coraxici; while the Araxes rises in the same mountains as the Euphrates, at a distance of six miles from it, and after being augmented by the river Usis, itself also, in the opinion of the majority of writers, joins the Cyrus and is carried by it down into the Caspian Sea.

The notable towns in Lesser Armenia are Caesarea, Aza and Nicopolis; those in Greater Armenia are Arsamosata, which is near the Euphrates, Carcathiocerta on the Tigris and Tigranocerta on the high ground, with Artaxata in the plains adjoining the Araxes. [27] Aufidius gives the circumference of the whole of Armenia as 5000 miles, while Claudius Caesar makes its length from Dascusa to the edge of the Caspian Sea 1300 miles and its breadth from Tigranocerta to Hiberia half that amount. It is a well-known fact that it is divided into 120 administrative districts with native names, called in Greek strategiai, some of which were formerly actual separate kingdoms. It is shut in on the east, but not immediately, by the Ceraunian Mountains and similarly by the Adiabene district. The intervening space is occupied by the Cepheni, [28] and next to them the mountain district beyond is occupied by the Adiabeni, while along the valleys the peoples adjoining Armenia are the Menobardi and Moscheni. Adiabene is encircled by the Tigris and by impassable mountains. The district on the left of Adiabene belongs to the Medes, as far as the point where the Caspian Sea comes into view; this sea derives its water from the Ocean, as we shall say in the proper place, and is entirely surrounded by the Caucasus Mountains.

We shall now mention the peoples dwelling along the border of Armenia.

{11.} L   [29] All the plain from the Cyrus onward is occupied by the race of the Albani and then that of the Hiberes, separated from the Albani by the river Alazon, which flows down from Mount Caucasus into the Cyrus. Important towns are Cabalaca in Albania and Harmastus on the river and Neoris in Hiberia. The districts of Thasie and Thriare reach to the Parihedri Mountains, and beyond them is the Colchic desert, on the side of which towards the Ceraunian Mountains  dwell the Armenochalybes, and the country of the Moschi reaching to the river Hiberus, a tributary of the Cyrus, and below them the Sacasani and then the Macerones reaching to the river Absarrus. This gives the population of the plains or mountain slopes; then after the frontier of Albania the whole face of the mountains is occupied by the wild tribes of the Silvi and below them those of the Lupenii, and afterwards the Diduri and Sodi.

{12.} L   [30] On leaving these one comes to the Caucasian Gates, which many very erroneously call the Caspian Gates, an enormous work of Nature, who has here suddenly rent the mountains asunder. Here gates have been placed, with iron-covered beams, under the centre of which flows a river emitting a horrible odour; and on this side of it on a rock stands the fortress called Cumania, erected for the purpose of barring the passage of the innumerable tribes. At this spot therefore the world is divided by gates into two portions; it is just opposite the Hiberian town of Harmastus. Beyond the the Caucasian Gates among the Gurdinian Mountains are the Valli and the Suani, races never yet quelled, who nevertheless work goldmines. After these, right on to the Black Sea, are a large number of tribes of Heniochi and then of Achaei. Such is the present state of one of the most famous regions in the world.

[31] Some authorities have reported the distance between the Black Sea and the Caspian as not more than 375 miles, while Cornelius Nepos makes it 250 miles: by such narrow straits is Asia  for a second time beset. Claudius Caesar gives the distance from the Cimmerian Bosporus to the Caspian Sea as 150 miles, and states that Seleucus Nicator at the time when he was killed by Ptolemy Cerannus was contemplating cutting a channel through this isthmus. It is practically certain that the distance from the Caucasian Gates to the Black Sea is 200 miles.

{13.} L   [32] The islands in the Black Sea are the Planctae, otherwise named the Cyaneae or Symplegades, and then Apollonia, called Thynias to distinguish it from the island of the same name in Europe - it is a mile away from the mainland and three miles in circumference - and opposite to Pharnacea Chalceritis, called by the Greeks the Aria and sacred to Mars; they say that on it there were birds which used to attack strangers with blows of their wings.

{14.} L    [33] Having now completed our description of the interior of Asia let us in imagination cross the Ripaean Mountains and proceed to the right along the shores of the Ocean. This washes the coast of Asia towards three points of the compass, under the name of Scythian Ocean on the north, Eastern Ocean on the east and Indian Ocean on the south; and it is subdivided into a variety of designations according to the bays that it forms and the people dwelling on its coasts. A great portion of Asia however also, adjoining the north, owing to the severity of its frosty climate contains vast deserts. [34] From the extreme north-north-east to the northernmost point at which the sun rises in summer there are the Scythians, and outside of them and beyond the point where north-north-east begins some have placed the Hyperboreans, who are said by a majority of authorities to be in Europe. After that point the first place known is Lytharmis, a promontory of Celtica, and the river Carambucis, where the range of the Ripaean Mountains terminates and with it the rigour of the climate relaxes; here we have reports of a people called the Arimphaei, a race not unlike the Hyperboreans. [35] They dwell in forests and live on berries; long hair is deemed to be disgraceful in the case of women and men alike; and their manners are mild. Consequently they are reported to be deemed a sacred race and to be left unmolested even by the savage tribes among their neighbours, this immunity not being confined to themselves but extended also to people who have fled to them for refuge. Beyond them we come directly to the Scythians, Cimmerians, Cissi, Anthi, Georgi, and a race of Amazons, the last reaching to the Caspian and Hyrcanian Sea.

{15.} L     [36] For the sea actually forces a passage from the Scythian Ocean to the back of Asia, where the inhabitants call it by a variety of names, but it is best known by two of them, as the Caspian Sea and the Hyrcanian. Clitarchus is of opinion that the Caspian is as large as the Black Sea; Eratosthenes also gives its dimensions on the south-east side along the coast of Cadusia and Albania as 725 miles, from there through the territories of the Anariaci, Amardi and Hyrcani to the mouth of the river Zonus 600 miles, and from there to the mouth of the Jaxartes 300 miles, making a total of 1575 miles. Artemidorus subtracts 25 miles from this total. [37] Agrippa states that the Caspian Sea and the races surrounding it, including Armenia, bounded on the east by the Seric Ocean, on the west by the ranges of the Caucasus, on the south by those of the Taurus and on the north by the Scythian Ocean, so far as is known extend 480 miles in length and 290 miles in breadth. But there are some authors who give the entire circuit of the sea in question from the straits as 2500 miles.

[38] Its waters make their way into this sea by a narrow mouth of considerable length; and where it begins to widen out it curves obliquely with crescent-shaped horns, as though descending from the mouth to Lake Maeotis, in the likeness of a sickle, as Marcus Varro states. The first part of it is called the Scythian Gulf, because the inhabitants on both sides are Scythians, who hold communication across the narrows, on one side being the Nomads and the Sauromatae, who have a variety of names, and on the other the Abzoae, with just as many. Starting at the entrance, on the right-hand side the actual point of the mouth is occupied by the Scythian tribe of the Udini; then along the coast are the Albani, said to be descended from Jason, after whom the sea at that point is called the Alban Sea. [39] This race overflows the Caucasus Mountains and, as previously stated, comes down as far as the river Cyrus, which forms the boundary between Armenia and Hiberia. Above the coastward parts of Albania and the Udini tribe stretch the Sarmatae, Utidorsi and Aroteres, in the rear of whom we have already indicated the Amazons and Sauromatides. The rivers running down to the sea through Albania are the Casus and the Albanus, then the Cambyses, which rises in the Caucasus Mountains, and then the Cyrus, rising in the Coraxaci, as we have said. The whole of the coast from the Casus is stated by Agrippa to be formed of very lofty cliffs which prohibit landing for 425 miles. The sea begins to have the name of Caspian from the mouth of the Cyrus, the coast being inhabited by the Caspii.

[40] In this place we must correct a mistake made by many people, even those who recently served with Corbulo in the war in Armenia. These have given the name of Caspian Gates to the pass in Hiberia, which, as we have stated, is called the Caucasian Gates, and maps of the region sent home from the front have this name written on them. Also the expedition threatened by the Emperor Nero was spoken of as intended to penetrate to the Caspian Gates, whereas it was really aimed at the pass that gives a road through Hiberia to Sarmatia, the mountain barrier affording scarcely any access to the Caspian Sea. There are however other Caspian Gates s adjoining the Caspian tribes; the distinction between the two passes can only be established by means of the report of those who accompanied the expedition of Alexander the Great.

{16.} L   [41] The kingdom of the Persians, which we now know as Parthia, lies between the two seas, the Persian and the Caspian, on the heights of the Caucasus range. Greater Armenia, which occupies the front of the mountain sloping towards Commagene, is adjoined, as we have said, by Cephenia, which lies on the descent on both sides of it, and this by Adiabene, where the land of the Assyrians begins; the part of Adiabene nearest to Syria is Arbilitis, where Alexander conquered Darius. [42] The Macedonians have given to the whole of Adiabene the name of Mygdonia, from its likeness to Mygdonia in Macedon. Its towns are Alexandria and Antiochia, the native name for which is Nesebis; it is 750 miles from Artaxata. There was also once the town of Nineveh, which was on the Tigris facing west, and was formerly very famous. Adjoining the other front of Greater Armenia, which stretches to the Caspian Sea, is Atrapatene, separated from the district of Otene in Armenia by the Araxes; its chief town is Gazae, 450 miles from Artaxata and the same distance from Ecbatana, the city of the Medes, to which race the Atrapateni belong.

{17.} L   [43] Ecbatana, the capital of Media, which was founded by King Seleucus, is 750 miles from Great Seleucia and 20 miles from the Caspian Gates. The other towns of Media are Phazaca, Aganzaga and Apamea, called Rhei. The reason for the name 'Gates' is the same as that stated above: the range is here pierced by a narrow pass 8 miles long, scarcely broad enough for a single line of waggon traffic, the whole of it a work of engineering. It is overhung on either side by crags that look as if they had been exposed to the action of fire, the country over a range of 28 miles being entirely waterless; the narrow passage is impeded by a stream of salt water that collects from the rocks and finds an exit by the same way. Moreover the number of snakes renders the route impracticable except in winter.

[44] Joining on to the Adiabeni are the people formerly called the Carduchi and now the Cordueni, past whom flows the river Tigris, and adjoining these are the 'Roadside' Pratitae, as they are called, who hold the Caspian Gates. Running up to these on the other side are the Parthian deserts and the Citheni range; and then comes the very agreeable locality, also belonging to Parthia, called Choara. Here are the two Parthian towns formerly serving for protection against the Medes, Calliope and, on another rock, Issatis; but the actual capital of Parthia, Hecatompylos, is 133 miles from the Gates - so effectively is the Parthian kingdom also shut off by passes. [45] Going out of the Caspian Gates one comes at once to the Caspian nation, which extends down to the coast: it is from this people that the pass and the sea obtain their name. On the left there is a mountainous district. Turning back from this people to the river Cyrus the distance is said to be 225 miles, and going up from the river Cyrus to the Caspian Gates 700 miles; for in the Itineraries of Alexander the Great this pass is made the turning-point of his expeditions, the distance from these Gates to the frontier of India being given as 1961 miles, from the frontier to the town of Bactra, which is the name given to Zariasta, 462 miles, and from Bactra to the river Jaxartes 620 miles.

{18.} L   [46] Lying to the east of the Caspians is the region called Apavortene, in which is Dareium, a place noted for its fertility. Then there are the tribes of the Tapyri, Anariaci, Staures and Hyrcani, from whose shores the Caspian beyond the river Sideris begins to be called the Hyrcanian Sea; while on this side of the Sideris are the rivers Maziris and Strator, all three streams rise in the Caucasus. Next comes the Margiane country, famous for its sunny climate - it is the only district in that region where the vine is grown; it is shut in all round by a beautiful ring of mountains, 187 miles in circuit, and is difficult of access on account of sandy deserts stretching for a distance of 120 miles; and it is itself situated opposite to the region of Parthia. [47] In Margiane Alexander had founded a city called Alexandria, which was destroyed by the barbarians, but Antiochus son of Seleucus re-established a city on the same site, intersected by the river Margus, which is canalized into Lake Zotha; he had preferred that the city should be named Antiochia. Its circuit measures 8 miles. This is the place to which the Roman prisoners taken in the disaster of Crassus were brought by Orodes. From the heights of Antiochia across the ridges of the Caucasus right on to the Bactrians extend the fierce tribe of the Mardi, an independent state. Below this region are the tribes of the Orciani, Commori, Berdnigae, Harmatotropi, Citomarae, Comani, Murrasiarae and Mandruani; [48] the rivers Mandrum and Chindrum, and beyond them the Chorasmi, Gandari, Paricani, Zarangae, Arasmi, Marotiani, Arsi, Gaeli (called by the Greeks the Cadusii), and Matiani; the town of Heraclea, founded by Alexander and subsequently overthrown, but restored by Antiochus, who gave it the name of Achais; the Dribyces, whose territory is intersected by the river Oxus rising in Lake Oaxus; the Syrmatae, Oxyttagae, Moci, Bateni, Saraparae; and the Bactri, whose town was called Zariasta from the river, but its name was afterwards changed to Bactra. This race occupies the opposite side of the Paropanisus over against the sources of the Indus, and is enclosed by the river Ochus. [49] Beyond are the Sogdiani and the town of Panda, and on the farthest confines of their territory Alexandria, founded by Alexander the Great. At this place there are altars set up by Hercules and Father Liber, and also by Cyrus and Semiramis and by Alexander, all of whom found their limit in this region of the world, where they were shut in by the river Jaxartes, which the Scythians call the Silis and which Alexander and his soldiers supposed to be the Tanais. But this river was crossed by Demodamas, the general of King Seleucus and King Antiochus, whom we are chiefly following in this part of our narrative; and he set up altars to Apollo Didymaeus.

{19.} L   [50] Beyond are some tribes of Scythians. To these the Persians have given the general name of Sacae, from the tribe nearest to Persia, but old writers call them the Aramii, and the Scythians themselves give the name of Chorsari to the Persians and call Mount Caucasus Croucasis, which means 'white with snow.' There is an uncountable number of tribes, numerous enough to live on equal terms with the Parthians; most notable among them are the Sacae, Massagetae, Daliae, Essedones, Astacae, Rumnici, Pestici, Homodoti, Histi, Edones, Camae, Camacae, Euchatae, Cotieri, Authusiani, Psacae, Arimaspi, Antacati, Chroasai and Oetaei; among them the Napaei are said to have been destroyed by the Palaei. [51] Notable rivers in their country are the Mandragaeus and the Caspasus. And in regard to no other region is there more discrepancy among authorities, this being due, I believe to the countless numbers and the nomadic habits of the tribes. The water of the Caspian Sea itself was said by Alexander the Great to be sweet to drink, and also Marcus Varro states that good drinking water was conveyed from it for Pompey when he was operating in the neighbourhood of the river during the Mithridatic War; doubtless the size of the rivers flowing into it overcomes the salt. [52] Varro further adds that exploration under the leadership of Pompey ascertained that a seven days' journey from India into the Bactrian country reaches the river Bactrus, a tributary of the Oxus, and that Indian merchandize can be conveyed from the Bactrus across the Caspian to the Cyrus and thence with not more than five days' portage by land can reach Phasis in Pontus.

There are many islands in all parts of the Caspian Sea, but only one of them, Zazata, is particularly notable.

{20.} L   [53] After leaving the Caspian Sea and the Scythian Ocean our course takes a bend towards the Eastern Sea as the coast turns to face eastward. The first part of the coast after the Scythian promontory is uninhabitable on account of snow, and the neighbouring region is uncultivated because of the savagery of the tribes that inhabit it. This is the country of the Cannibal Scythians who eat human bodies; consequently the adjacent districts are waste deserts thronging with wild beasts lying in wait for human beings as savage as themselves. Then we come to more Scythians and to more deserts inhabited by wild beasts, until we reach a mountain range called Tabis which forms a cliff over the sea; and not until we have covered nearly half of the length of the coast that faces north-east is that region inhabited. [54] The first human occupants are the people called the Seres, who are famous for the woollen substance obtained from their forests; after a soaking in water they comb off the white down of the leaves, and so supply our women with the double task of unravelling the threads and weaving them together again; so manifold is the labour employed, and so distant is the region of the globe drawn upon, to enable the Roman matron to flaunt transparent raiment in public. The Seres, though mild in character, yet resemble wild animals, in that they also shun the company of the remainder of mankind, and wait for trade to come to them. [55] The first river found in their territory is the Psitharas, next the Cambari, and third the Lanos, after which come the Chryse Promontory, the Bay of Cirnaba, the river Atianos and the tribe of the Attacori on the bay of the same name, sheltered by sunbathed hills from every harmful blast, with the same temperate climate as that in which dwell the Hyperborei. The Attacori are the subject of a monograph by Amometus, while the Hyperborei have been dealt with in a volume by Hecataeus. After the Attacori there are the Phuni and Thocari tribes, and (coming now to natives of India) the Casiri, situated in the interior in the direction of the Scythians - the Casiri are cannibals; also the Nomad tribes of India reach this point in their wanderings. Some writers state that these tribes are actually in contact with the Cicones and also the Brisari on the north.

{21.} L   [56] We now come to a point after which there is complete agreement as to the races - the Hemodi Mountains. Here begins the Indian race, bordering not only on the Eastern Sea but on the southern also, which we have designated the Indian Ocean. The part facing east stretches in a straight line until it comes to a bend, and at the point where the Indian Ocean begins its total length is 1875 miles; while from that point onward the southerly bend of the coast according to Eratosthenes covers 2475 miles, finally reaching the river Indus, which is the western boundary of India. [57] A great many authors however give the entire length of the coast as being forty days' and nights' sail and the measurement of the country from north to south as 2850 miles. Agrippa says that it is 3300 miles long and 2300 miles broad. Posidonius gives its measurement from north-east to south-east, making the whole of it face the west side of Gaul, of which he gives the measurement from north-west to south-west; and accordingly he shows by an unquestionable line of argument that India has the advantage of being exposed to the current of the west wind, which makes it healthy. [58] In that country the aspect of the heavens and the rising of the stars are different, and there are two summers and two harvests yearly, separated by a winter accompanied by etesian winds, while at our midwinter it enjoys soft breezes and the sea is navigable. Its races and cities are beyond counting, if one wished to enumerate all of them. For it has been brought to knowledge not only by the armed forces of Alexander the Great and the kings who succeeded him, Seleucus and Antiochus, and their admiral of the fleet Patrocles having sailed round even into the Hyrcanian and Caspian Sea, but also by other Greek authors who have stayed as guests with the Indian kings, for instance Megasthenes, and Dionysius sent by Philadelphus for that purpose, and have also reported as to the strength of these nations. [59] Nevertheless there is no possibility of being exact as to this matter, so discrepant and so difficult to believe are the accounts given. Those who accompanied Alexander the Great have written that the region of India subdued by him contained 5000 towns, none less than two miles in circuit, and nine nations, and that India forms a third of the entire surface of the earth, and that its populations are innumerable - which is certainly a very probable theory, inasmuch as the Indians are almost the only race that has never migrated from its own territory. From the time of Father Liber to Alexander the Great 153 kings of India are counted in a period of 6451 years and three months. [60] The rivers are of enormous size: it is stated that Alexander sailing on the Indus did never less than 75 miles a day and yet could not reach the mouth of the river in less time than five months and a few days over, and nevertheless it is certain that the Indus is smaller than the Ganges. Seneca also, who among our own writers essayed an account of India, gives its rivers as 60 in number and its races as 118. It would be an equally laborious task to enumerate its mountains; there is a continuous chain formed by Imavus, Hemodus, Paropanisus and Caucasus, from which the whole country slopes down into an immense plain resembling that of Egypt.

[61] However, in order to give an idea of the geographical description of India we will follow in the footsteps of Alexander the Great. Diognetus and Baeton, the surveyors of his expeditions, write that the distance from the Caspian Gates to the Parthian city of Hecatompylos is the number of miles that we stated above { 6.44 }; from thence to the city of Alexandria of the Arii, which Alexander founded, 575 miles, to the city of the Drangae, Prophthasia, 199 miles, to Alexandria of the Arachosii 565 miles, to Ortospanum 175 miles,   [62] and thence to Alexander's Town 50 miles (in some copies of this record we find different numbers): this city is stated to be situated immediately below the Caucasus; from it to the river Cophes and the Indian town of Peucolatis 237 miles, and thence to the river Indus and the town of Taxilla 60 miles, to the famous river Hydaspes 120 miles, to the not less notable Hypasis 390 miles - this was the terminus of Alexander's journeys, although he crossed the river and dedicated altars upon the opposite bank. The king's actual dispatches also agree with these figures. [63] The remaining distances after the Hypasis were ascertained by the exploration of Seleucus Nicator; to the Sydrus 169 miles, to the river Iomanes the same (some copies add 5 miles), thence to the Ganges 112, to Rhodapha 569 (others give 325 miles in this space), to the town of Callinipaza 167 (others 165), thence to the confluence of the river Iomanes and the Ganges 625 (a great many add 13), to the town of Palibothra 425, to the mouth of the Ganges 637. [64] The races worth mentioning after leaving the Hemodi Mountains (a projection of which is called the Imaus, which in the vernacular means 'snowy') are the Isari, Cosiri, Izi, and spread over the range the Chirotosagi and a number of tribes with the name of Bragmanae, among them the Mactocalingae; the rivers are the Prinas and Cainnas, the latter a tributary of the Ganges, both of them navigable; then the tribes of the Calingae nearest the sea, and further inland the Mandaei, the Malli occupying Mount Malhis, and the river Ganges, which is the boundary of this region.

{22.} L   [65] The Ganges is said by some people to rise from unknown sources like the Nile and to irrigate the neighbouring country in the same manner, but others say that its source is in the mountains of Scythia, and that it has nineteen tributaries, among which the navigable ones besides those already mentioned are the Crenacca, Rhamnumbova, Casuagus and Sonus. Others state that it bursts forth with a loud roar at its very source, and after falling over crags and cliffs, as soon as it reaches fairly level country finds hospitality in a certain lake, and flows out of it in a gentle stream with a breadth of 5 miles where narrowest, and 14 miles as its average width, and nowhere less than 100 feet deep, the last race situated on its banks being that of the Gangarid Calingae: the city where their king lives is called Pertalis. [66] This monarch has 60,000 infantry, 1000 cavalry and 700 elephants always equipped ready for active service. For the peoples of the more civilised Indian races are divided into many classes in their mode of life: they cultivate the land, others engage in military service, others export native merchandise and import goods from abroad, while the best and wealthiest administer the government and serve as judges and as counsellors of the kings. There is a fifth class of persons devoted to wisdom which is held in high honour with these people and almost elevated into a religion; those of this class always end their life by a voluntary death upon a pyre to which they have previously themselves set light. There is one class besides these, half-wild people devoted to the laborious taskfrom which the classes above mentioned are kept awayof hunting and taming elephants; these they use for ploughing and for transport, these are their commonest kind of cattle, and these they employ when fighting in battle and defending their country: elephants to use in war are chosen for their strength and age and size. [67] There is a very spacious island in the Ganges containing a single race named the Modogalinga race. Beyond it are situated the Modubae, the Molindae, the Uberae with a magnificent town of the same name, the Modressae, Praeti, Aclissae, Sasuri, Fassulae, Colebae, Orumcolae, Abali and Thalutae: the king of the latter tribe has an army of 50,000 infantry, 4000 cavalry and 4000 elephants. Next come the Andarae, a more powerful tribe, with a great many villages and thirty towns fortified with walls and towers; they furnish their king with 100,000 infantry, 2000 cavalry and 1000 elephants. The country of the Dardae produces gold in great quantity, and that of the Setae silver also. [68] But almost the whole of the peoples of India and not only those in this district are surpassed in power and glory by the Prasii, with their very large and wealthy city of Palibothra, from which some people give the name of Palibothri to the race itself, and indeed to the whole tract of country from the Ganges. Their king maintains and pays a standing army of 60,000 foot, 30,000 horse and 9000 elephants, from which the vastness of his wealth may be conjectured. [69] Further up country from these are the Monaedes and the Suari, in whose domain is Mount Malens upon which shadows fall towards the north in winter and towards the south in summer, for periods of six months alternately. According to Baeton the constellation of the Great Bear is only visible in this region one time in the year, and only for a period of a fortnight; and Megasthenes says that the same thing occurs in many other places in India. The Indian name for their southern region is Diamasa. The river Iomanes runs through the Palibothri country into the Ganges between the towns of Methora and Chrysobora. [70] In the region to the south of the Ganges the tribes are browned by the heat of the sun to the extent of being coloured, though not as yet burnt black like the Ethiopians; the nearer they get to the Indus the more colour they display. We come to the Indus immediately after leaving the Prasii, a tribe in whose mountain regions there is said to be a race of Pygmies. Artemidorus gives the distance from the Ganges to the Indus as 2100 miles.

Following sections (71-141)

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