Strabo‎ > ‎

Strabo - Media, Phrygia

Excerpt from Book XI. Chapter XIII. 3. Media.

The other parts of this country are fertile, but that towards the north is mountainous, rugged, and cold, the abode of the mountain tribes of Cadusii Amardi, Tapyri, Curtii, and other similar nations, who are migratory, and robbers. These people are scattered over the Zagrus and Niphates. The Curtii in Persia, and Mardi, (for so they call the Amardi,) and those in Armenia, and who bear the same name at present, have the same kind of character.

Book XI. Chapter XIII. 5. Media.

The Greater Media anciently governed the whole of Asia, after the overthrow of the Syrian empire: but afterwards, in the time of Astyages, the Medes were deprived of this extensive sovereignty by Cyrus and the Persians, yet they retained much of their ancient importance. Ecbatana was the winter (royal?) residence of the Persian kings, as it was of the Macedonian princes, who overthrew the Persian empire, and got possession of Syria. It still continues to serve the same purpose, and affords security to the kings of Parthia.


Book XI. Chapter XIII. 6. Media.

Media is bounded on the east by Parthia, and by the mountains of the Cossaei, a predatory tribe. They once furnished the Elymaei, whose allies they were in the war against the Susii and Babylonians, with 13,000 archers. Nearchus says that there were four robber tribes; the Mardi, who were contiguous to the Persians, the Uxii and Elymaei, who were on the borders of the Persians and Susii; and the Cossaei, on those of the Medes; that all of them exacted tribute from the kings; that the Cossaei received presents, when the king, having passed his summer at Ectobana went down to Babylonia; that Alexander attacked them in the winter time, and repressed their excessive insolence. Media is bounded on the east by these nations, and by the Paraetaceni, who are contiguous to the Persians, and are mountaineers, and robbers; on the north by the Cadusii, who live above the Hyrcanian Sea, and by other nations, whom we have just enumerated; on the south by the Apolloniatis, which the ancients called Sitacene, and by the Zagrus, along which lies Massabatica, which belongs to Media, but according to others, to Elymaea; on the west by the Atropatii, and by some tribes of the Armenians.

There are also Grecian cities in Media, founded by Macedonians, as Laodiceia, Apameia, Heracleia near Rhagae, and Rhaga itself, founded by Nicator, who called it Europus, and the Parthians Arsacia, situated about 500 stadia to the south of the Caspian Gates, according to Apollodorus of Artemita.


Excerpt from Book XI. Chapter XIII. 7. Media.

The greater part of Media consists of high ground, and is cold; such are the mountains above Ecbatana, and the places about Rhagae and the Caspian Gates, and the northern parts in general extending thence as far as Matiane and Armenia. The country below the Caspian Gates consists of flat grounds and valleys. It is very fertile, and produces everything except the olive, or if it grows anywhere it does not yield oil, and is dry. The country is peculiarly adapted, as well as Armenia, for breeding horses. There is a meadow tract called Hippobotus, which is traversed by travelers on their way from Persia and Babylonia to the Caspian Gates. Here, it is said, fifty thousand mares were pastured in the time of the Persians, and were the king’s stud. The Nesaean horses, the best and largest in the king’s province, were of this breed, according to some writers, but according to others they came from Armenia. Their shape is peculiar, as is that of the Parthian horses, compared with those of Greece and others in our country.

The herbage which constitutes the chief food of the horses we call peculiarly by the name of Medic, from its growing in Media in great abundance…


Book XI. Chapter XIII. 9. Media.

Many of their customs are the same as those of the Armenians, from the similarity of the countries which they inhabit. The Medes however were the first to communicate them to the Armenians, and still before that time to the Persians, who were their masters, and successors in the empire of Asia.

The Persian stole, as it is now called, the pursuit of archery and horsemanship, the court paid to their kings, their attire, and veneration fitting for gods paid by the subjects to the prince, - these the Persians derived from the Medes. That this is that fact appears chiefly from their dress. A tiara, a citaris, a hat, tunics with sleeves reaching to the hands, and trousers, are proper to be worn in cold and northerly places, such as those in Media, but they are not by any means adapted to inhabitants in the south. The Persians had their principal settlements on the Gulf of Persia, being situated more to the south than the Babylonians and the Susii. But after the overthrow of the Medes they gained possession of some tracts of country contiguous to Media. The custom however of the vanquished appeared to the conquerors to be so noble, and appropriate to royal state, that instead of nakedness or scanty clothing, they endured the use of the feminine stole, and were entirely covered with dress to the feet.


Book XI. Chapter XIII. 10. Media.

Some writers say that Medeia, when with Jason she ruled in these countries, introduced this kind of dress, and concealed her countenance as often as she appeared in public in place of the king; that the memorials of Jason are, the Jasonian heroa, held in great reverence by the Barbarians (beside a great mountain above the Caspian Gates on the left hand, called Jasonium,) and that the memorials of Medeia are the kind of dress, and the name of the country. Medus, her son, is said to have been her successor in the kingdom, and the country to have been called after his name. In agreement with this are the Jasonia in Armenia, the name of the country, and many other circumstances which we shall mention.


Book XI. Chapter XIV. 9. Armenia.

There are also large lakes in Armenia; one the Mantiane which word translated signifies Cyane, or Blue, the largest salt-water lake, it is said, after the Palus Maeotis, extending as far as (Media-) Atropatia. It has salt pans for the concretion of salt.

The next is Arsene, which is also called Thopitis. Its waters contain nitre, and are used for cleaning and fulling clothes. It is unfit by these qualities for drinking. The Tigris passes through this lake after issuing from the mountainous country near the Niphates, and by its rapidity keeps its stream unmixed with the water of the lake, whence it has its name, for the Medes call an arrow, Tigris. This river contains fish of various kinds, but the lake one kind only.

At the extremity of the lake the river falls into a deep cavity in the earth. After pursuing a long course under-ground, it re-appears in the Chalonitis; thence it goes to Opis, and so to the wall of Semiramis, as it is called, leaving the Gordyaei and the whole of Mesopotamia on the right hand. The Euphrates, on the contrary, has the same country on the left. Having approached one another, and formed Mesopotamia, one traverses Seleucia in its course to the Persian Gulf, the other Babylon, as I have said in replying to Eratosthenes and Hipparchus.


Book XI. Chapter XIV. 9. Armenia.

There are mines of gold in the Hyspiratis, near Caballa. Alexander sent Menon to the mines with a body of soldiers, but he was strangled by the inhabitants of the country. There are other mines, and also a mine of Sandyx as it is called, to which is given the name of Armenian colour, it resembles the Calche.*

*It is doubtful whether this colour was red, blue, or purple.

This country is so well adapted, being nothing inferior in this respect to Media, for breeding horses, that the race of Nesaean horses, which the kings of Persia used, is found here also; the satrap of Armenia used to send annually to the king of Persia 20,000 foals at the time of the festival of the Mithracina. Artavasdes, when he accompanied Antony in his invasion of Media, exhibited, besides other bodies of cavalry, 6000 horse covered with complete armour drawn up in array.

Not only do the Medes and Armenians, but the Albanians also, admire this kind of cavalry, for the latter use horses covered with armour.

Book XII. Chapter I. 3. Cappadocia.

This country composes the isthmus, as it were, of a large peninsular formed by two seas; by the bay of Issus extending to Cilicia Tracheia, and by the Euxine lying between Sinope and the coast of the Tibareni.

The isthmus cuts off what we call the peninsula; the whole tract lying to the west of the Cappadocians, to which Herodotus gives the name of the country within the Halys. This is the country the whole of which was the kingdom of Croesus. Herodotus calls him king of the nations on this side of the river Halys. But writers of the present time give the name of Asia, which is the appellation of the whole continent, to the country within the Taurus.

This Asia comprises, first, the nations on the east, Paphlagonians, Phrygians, and Lycaonians; then Bithynians, Mysians, and the Epictetus; besides these, Troas, and the Hellespontia, next to these, and situated on the sea, are the Aeolians, and Ionians, who are Greeks; the inhabitants of the remaining portions are Carians and Lycians, and in the inland parts are Lydians.


Book XII. Chapter V. 3. Galatia.

Pessinus is the largest mart of any in that quarter. It contains a temple of the Mother of the Gods, held in the highest veneration. The goddess is called Agdistis. The priests anciently were a sort of sovereigns, and derived a large revenue from their office. At present their consequence is much diminished, but the mart still subsides. The sacred enclosure was adorned with fitting magnificence by the Attalic kings,* with a temple, and porticos of marble. The Romans gave importance to the temple by sending for the statue of the goddess from thence according to the oracle of the Sibyl, as they had sent for that of Asclepius from Epidaurus.

*The kings of Pergamus.

The mountain Dindymus is situated above the city; from Dindymus comes Dindymene, as from Cybela, Cybele. Near it runs the river Sangarius, and on its banks are the ancient dwellings of the Phrygians, of Midas, and of Gordius before his time, and of some others, which do not preserve the vestiges of cities, but are villages a little larger than the rest. Such is Gordium, and Gorbeus (Gordeus), the royal seat of Castor, son of Saocondarius (Saocondarus?) in which he was put to death by his father-in-law, Deiotarus, who there also murdered his own daughter. Deiotarus razed the fortress, and destroyed the greater part of the settlement.


Excerpt from Book XII. Chapter VII. 3. Pisidia.

…There are few approaches about the city (Selge,) and the mountainous country of the Selgeis, which abounds with precipices and ravines, formed among other rivers by the Eurymedon and the Cestrus, which descend from the Selgic mountains and discharge themselves into the Pamphylian Sea. There are bridges on the roads. From the strength and security of their position the Selgeis were never at any time, nor on any single occasion, subject to any other people, but enjoyed unmolested the produce of their country, with the exception of that part situated below them in Pamphylia, and that within the Taurus, for which they were carrying on a continual warfare with the kings.

Their position with respect to the Romans was that they possessed this tract on certain conditions. They sent ambassadors to Alexander and offered to receive his commands in the character of friends, but at present they are altogether subject to the Romans, and are included in what was formerly the kingdom of Amyntas.


Excerpt from Book XII. Chapter VIII. 18. Phrygia.

Apameia among other cities experienced, before the invasion of Mithridates, frequent earthquakes, and the king, on his arrival, when he saw the overthrow of the city, gave a hundred talents for its restoration. It is said that the same thing happened in the time of Alexander; for this reason it is probable that Neptune is worshipped there, although they are an island people, and that it had the name of Celaenae from Celaenus,* the son of Neptune, by Celaeno, one of the Danaides, or from the black colour of the stones, or from the blackness which is the effect of combination…

*The Black.


Comments