Now most of the country is high and cold; and such, also, are the mountains which lie above Ecbatana and those in the neighborhood of Rhagae and the Caspian Gates, and in general the northerly regions extending thence to Matiane and Armenia; but the region below the Caspian Gates, consisting of low-lying lands and hollows, is very fertile and productive of everything but the olive; and even if the olive is produced anywhere, it is dry and yields no oil. This, as well as Armenia, is an exceptionally good "horse-pasturing"1
country; and a certain meadow there is called "Horse-pasturing," and those who travel from Persis and Babylon to Caspian Gates pass through it; and in the time of the Persians it is said that fifty thousand mares were pastured in it and that these herds belonged to the kings. As for the Nesaean horses, which the kings used because they were the best and the largest, some writers say that the breed came from here, while others say from Armenia. They are characteristically different in form, as are also the Parthian horses, as they are now called, as compared with the Helladic and the other horses in our country. Further, we call the grass that makes the best food for horses by the special name "Medic," from the fact that it abounds there. The country also produces silphium; whence the "Medic" juice, as it is called, which in general is not much inferior to the "Cyrenaic" juice, but sometimes is even superior to it, either owing to regional differences, or because of a variation in the species of the plant, or even owing to the people who extract and prepare the juice in such a way as to conserve its strength for storage and for use.